Tea never intended to raise her brother from the dead but when she did her entire life changed.
Rin Chupeco does a fantastic job creating this magical world with strong Asian influences. You have the magical Asha’s who are very reminiscent of Geisha’s. Even the Hua’s that the Asha wears brings to mind a kimono. She even goes so far as to fully describe one of the performances that took place during a very important part of the story. I will be honest, that was an interesting part of the story but it dragged on longer than it needed to. The story jumps between the present and the past seamlessly through Tea’s interactions with the Bard. He pleads for her to tell him her story and she agrees. This interaction allows you to see how she was trained as well as seeing her working her dark magic in present time (when she is 17). I am trying my best not to give away any spoilers because the interactions in present time are what made me really want to read the sequel.
As I mentioned above, Chupeco did an amazing job creating the world of this book. The world is very well constructed. There is history and the women of this world are pretty fantastic. Not that the men are not, we just don’t get much of there part of the world yet. Another bonus was that there was LGBT+ representation in the book! There were two characters, Rahim and Likh that I believe were definitely part of that community. Rahim the well respected Hua maker said “We are all girls here” when Tea felt shy getting fitted for her Hua. You also had Likh who wanted nothing more than to be an Asha, a role filled traditionally by women. He wanted this so bad that he risked imprisonment just so that he could preform dressed as an Asha in hopes of being accepted into their ranks…he was not but there is still hope for him.
Another element that I loved about this book was how strong Tea was, and I am not talking about physical strength. he understands that there is more to her power than is being taught and she is willing to delve into this power. Not for her own evil purposes, but to protect future Asha from sacrificing themselves. She knows that there has to be another way and she is determined to find it. She will do whatever it takes and I admire that!
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. There were a few moments in the book that just seemed to drag on but they were still interesting. I realize that a lot of this was done in order to help set up the next book, but still maybe some parts could have been shortened. Either way, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. If you are interested in an interesting YA novel with a strong female lead, lgbt+ representation, and magic this is the book for you!