Author: Claire LeGrand
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Empirium, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Claire LeGrand and I: We have a bit of a love/hate relationship. The first book I read by her was Winterspell, a dark fantasy retelling of one of my favorite stories: The Nutcracker, and I wasn’t blown away. The idea was better than the execution. But I read that she was writing a new book, a feminist fantasy that was sweeping, scary, and beautifully written, so I ordered it from my library. Honestly, I was very pleasantly surprised. With fantastic pacing, strong, fascinating characters, political intrigue, original mythology, and an explosive ending that had my jaw on the floor, I loved Furyborn, and I can’t wait until the sequel comes out!
Furyborn tells the story of two young women, centuries apart, who hold the ultimate power, the power to either save the world, or doom it entirely. When assassins attempt to take her best friend’s life, who also happens to be the crown prince of the land, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her dangerous and unheard of ability to wield all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only two people able to control all kinds of magic are a pair of legendary, dead queens: The Sun Queen and the Blood Queen. To prove that she is, in fact, The Sun Queen, she is forced to endure seven trials to test her skills. But if she fails, she could lose everything. A thousand years later, the story of Queen Rielle is nothing but legend to the bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When The Undying Empire took over the kingdom, she embraced violence reluctantly, driven to keep her family alive. But when her mother and dozens of other women disappear without a trace, she is forced into a corner, entering a fragile alliance with a rebel captain. And in teaming up with him, she discovers that the evil she always suspected lies deeply in the heart of her home, more terrible than she could have ever imagined. The two women’s stories intersect and bring with them shocking revelations that will determine the fate of their world, and of themselves.
As I said, this book was really surprising. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue, because it took a little while to get into, but I’m really glad that I stuck with it. Claire LeGrand has fully redeemed herself in my eyes with Furyborn. It was a fantasy unlike any others that I had read, and I really enjoyed it. She also gets bonus points for the indexes and charts in the back; it was really nice to have references for when I got lost. The pacing was breakneck, and it didn’t hurt that the prose was beautiful and captivating. Once I really got invested, I was constantly flipping pages, desperate to put the pieces together. Rife with political intrigue, romance, and more than a handful of twists, turns, and secrets, overall, I really liked Furyborn. I couldn’t give it five stars, though, because it took me a little while to understand the intricate worldbuilding, and at times both girls seemed distracted by their own thoughts rather than what was happening around them. But it was the ending that was one of my favorite things; my jaw was on the floor by the end of the book! I can’t wait until the sequel! The bottom line: A meaty, surprising and feminist series opener, Furyborn, despite some minor qualms, is one of my favorite books of 2018, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi!