Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands Book 1) by Sarah Chorn

A passionate expression of grief and sorrow.

It’s rare I read a book twice these last few years, but when I went back into my notes for this review I ended up completely re-reading Seraphina’s Lament and love it more for it. There is a visceral pull to the emotions, situations, and connections in this story. This book, as promised by the title, is indeed a lament. The story is gruesome in parts, bleak in others, and heart rending. Yet it is filled to the brim with magic and sleeping gods. The fate of the world is at stake and an awakening god must act. It’s a very compelling combination

From the very beginning, your heart is breaking already as you witness Seraphina’s life. She is a minor talent of fire and marked as such. A brand upon her cheek of flame. She and her twin, Neryan, a water talent, were raised in slave schools. Taken, tested, and marked by the collective government of the premiere. Both were kept as pets of the premiere. Until Seraphina makes a sacrifice to free Neryan. The resulting cruelty and pain she endures at the hands of a ruthless premiere is horrifying. A man who can read her every thought and keeps on a leash as his pet. She cannot even contemplate escaping him, but a sudden rise in her abilities gives her hope of revenge. Her heart aches constantly in the absence of her twin and the pain which wracks her body is the consequences of staying so he could be free. Seraphina and her twin’s powers are spiralling and they need one another to balance each other and remain in control. They’ve been apart for five years and if they don’t reunite soon it could mean the death of both.

The core group of characters are connected, save Taub, in that they have come together to either disrupt or escape the collectivism and corrupt rulers of the Sunset Lands in any way they can. Seraphina, her twin Neryan, Mousami, (Mouse), Vadden, and the gentle and brave couple Amiti and his spouse Kabir. This tale is character driven and this cast is unforgettable. On the other side of the line is our antagonist, Premiere Eyad, with his incredible talent being the power of reading minds. It’s terrifying to everyone under his thumb. His control of the government and police is total. His greed is boundless and his cruelty is famous, and yet Chorn manages his story so well that one actually feels pity for him on occasion.

Each character is so completely realized and each connection is like spinning wool. Everything is relevant and the threads grow thicker pulling everything and everyone into a thrilling, shocking,and emotional climax. The intertwining of the past and present brings both sides of a war with the revolutionaries and the collective ruling in the city of Lord’s Reach with its dictator premier into the same battle against the changes that are happening in the Sunset Lands. The barren land, the drought, and the deaths of thousands, is beyond the control of any human. The Sunset Lands have been ravaged by collectivism and the people are dying. Refugees are fleeing in droves to the cities. The collective ruling class is still draining the land, and sending refugees to labor camps by the thousands, from which none return. Soon all of them, rich or poor, will starve and die alongside the heart of the world.

Old gods of power have awakened only to hear the death of the world. A call is sent out through the world that changes the magic of those who can hear it. It’s lure is irresistible. Minor abilities of magic become rampaging forces within those who now travel to find its source. They are becoming something else and must heed the call. They may lose their humanity in the process of becoming one of the brethren of forces that could keep the orld alive. How far until they break and become the forces which can heal the heart of the world?

There are very complex relationships found here between estranged husbands, between the siblings, even between a father and adopted daughter that challenge us and make us contemplate how we view love and how far we will go to protect those we care for. Every one of these relationships are very emotionally moving. How torn can a heart be if it must choose between love and sacrifice?

A tragedy with a tiny spark of hope. This book will appeal to those who appreciate poetic allegory. I found the prose just swept me in and kept me totally invested. Although tragic and jarring, it is at once pain, horror, death, and hope.

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Excerpt:

After discovering that the palace was impenetrable, she’d planned to go back to Amiti’s Inn and tell Neryan and Vadden what she’d seen. She’d been halfway through the city, almost to Freedman’s Quarter, when she saw guards clearing the area that rubbed up against the south wall. They were brutally forcing the refugee families and freed slaves to move either further into Lord’s Reach, into little ghettos they’d built, or out into the countryside. Those who didn’t go willingly, didn’t survive. She’d watched the purge with a sick fascination, dread coiling in her gut like snakes. She couldn’t stop it, so why try? Instead, she’d clung to the darkness of alleys and lanes, ducked into abandoned warehouses and slipped behind precarious piles of old pallets and trash. All the while watching as the guards let loose, braining people, slitting throats, pushing, pulling, robbing, and raping, until the poor were subdued or dead. Until the streets were stained red with the color of their intent.

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It is a Grimdark fantasy that shatters your heart. A powerful debut that leaves just enough in the epilogue to end an epoch and perhaps begin another.

Beautiful both inside and out, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. The beautiful artwork done by Pen Astridge on the cover is arresting on its own and exemplifies the content perfectly.

 

 

 

Cover blurb:

The world is dying. The Sunset Lands are broken, torn apart by a war of ideology paid for with the lives of the peasants. Drought holds the east as famine ravages the farmlands. In the west, borders slam shut in the face of waves of refugees, dooming all of those trying to flee to slow starvation, or a future in forced labor camps. There is no salvation. In the city of Lord’s Reach, Seraphina, a slave with unique talents, sets in motion a series of events that will change everything. In a fight for the soul of the nation, everyone is a player. But something ominous is calling people to Lord’s Reach and the very nature of magic itself is changing. Paths will converge, the battle for the Sunset Lands has shifted, and now humanity itself is at stake. First, you must break before you can become.56196761_2316138168672005_1209643007381340160_n

  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07MPYWVQG

 

Click the cover at right to get your copy today.

 

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About the author:

Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor with hEDS, and mom to one seven-year-old, and one rambunctious toddler. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of speculative fiction books. She has been running the speculative fiction review blog Bookworm Blues for eight years.

 

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