Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 28th, 2021
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review!
“From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead.
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.” (Goodreads)
Margaret Rogerson always writes unique books and I scream internally whenever a new one comes on the scene. You can expect a great cover as well. Compared to her other two books, this one is darker and I will list the triggers now.
Content Warning (From Author): Self-harm, anxiety, disordered eating (minor), child neglect/abuse (past), trauma/PTSD (traumatic experiences in past). None of the abuse or trauma is sexual in nature. Very brief suicide mention in the epilogue, concerning a character from the past who never appears in the book.
Artemisia is a strong young woman who has been through a lot when it comes to her past. She isn’t well liked because of it and it can cause discord between her and the others at the convent. I liked getting bits and pieces of her past from the beginning to the end and the growth she had while learning to trust others and realizing she doesn’t have to be alone. It’s easy for us to want to bottle up everything and in this way I could relate to her.
Besides Artemisia, the other character that has the most page time is the revenant. He is humorous, maybe evil, and can be quite brash. I wasn’t too sure about him in the beginning but by the end it’s hard not to care for him. He’s a complicated being but it’s hard not to like him!
So many of the other characters are complex in their own way even as minor characters. They each have their struggles and deal with it in different ways. The development for Marguerite was another favorite.
The convent that she lives at was a very unique setting and I liked learning about the Grey sisters. Their job is to take care of the dead and make sure their spirits don’t rise. Each corpse is taken care of differently based on the circumstances of their death. It was easy to understand all of the context that was given and it wasn’t bogged down by long explanations.
There were times that the plot felt a bit slow and not as gripping as her last book but I still liked it nonetheless. It is unique with a fun take on nuns/clergy and the spirits that they deal with. You can see parallels from our own world when it comes to religion or even refugees.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one! Since this isn’t a standalone but does wrap up, I am curious what the next book in this world will be about! Hopefully all of my favorite characters will be back. If you have enjoyed her other books or like darker YA fantasy then you should definitely add this one to your tbr.