by Matthew Cook
Back of the book's blurb:
When the inhuman Mor crawl up from the underground to torment the world above, Kirin joins the battle against them as scout and archer for the Imperial Army. The power of her blood magic, a dark sorcery even she does not understand, has given her the ability to raise grotesque creatures from souls and dead flesh -- loyal, lethal warriors that aid her in the fight to survive. She finds comfort in the arms of Sergeant Jazen Tor, but it is the beautiful and gentle Lia Cho, a woman who can call lightening from the skies, who helps Kirin discover the truth about herself . . .
I forgot why I had gotten this book, but I can not say that it was a bad choice. I like darker stories, so this one got to me just great. I saw several bad reviews, but I was able to enjoy it. The story of Kirin and how she's become what she is was sometimes, personally, very touching for me.
The story starts off with Kirin in battle with the Mor and along side her lover, Sergeant Jazen Tor and the whatever's left of their Imperial Army. She shows to have some necromantic talent, saying to herself that they are foolish for not letting her call upon the souls of the dead to make her 'sweetlings,' who could obviously aide them against the monstrous Mor. Upon making a decision on her own whim, against the instructions of their Captain Hollern, she brings life to the fallen soldiers as her minions, or sweetlings as she prefers to name them.
That's when things turn out horribly. Her lover, Jazen, is murdered by the Mor. The scenario is sad, but she brings back a sweetling with his soul and dead body to help on the journey the survivors must continue on to the supposed safety of Fort Azure ahead. A little after that the story altnerates in chapters from current on going events and the story of Kirin's past.
Kirin speaks of the lives of herself and her twin sister. There seems to be much domestic abuse amongst both of the married women. Kirin finds strength and an outlet by learning the ways of the local Wise Woman. Her sister takes worse treatment from her own husband but keeps to herself and looking after her child. One day, Kirin finds the murder of her sister, the original Kirin, and loses control.
She decides to put what she's learned, even if it's forbidden dark magic, to good use. Before running from all she's known and what her twin sister had created for them, she performs a ritual that somehow has their souls fused into her body. She then takes her sister's name, Kirin, as her own.
Then we learn of how she's come to be a scout and archer of the Imperial Army, meeting her lover Jazen and then the outcome of meeting Lia Cho, an elemental mage with power of the storms/lightening. I could go ahead and give more spoils of this story, but I wouldn't want to ruin it for a possible reader. There's plenty more violence against her and trials she goes through that are heartbreaking, but only make this character much stronger.
Eventually she has to come to terms of what she is, now that she posses the power of Blood Magic (something that I think is like vampirism -- she can feed off of the life blood of others and literally pull it from their bodies) and the necromancy, or ability to conjure up minions by use of the dead's souls and bodies. Where does she belong, now that she's so much different than everyone else and they all believe her to be an abomination? Still, throughout the story, even when she has this dark dual personality, awesome abilities and bloody hunger, she shows her humanity by her compassion and constant risk to save others.
This is definitely not a paranormal romance. There is plenty of gore and bloodlust along with several scenes of army battles and violence against women. Not for the faint of heart. If you're into dark tragedies, this might be one for you.
Kirin is one of my favorite misunderstood heroines. I am going to find the second of this series to find what's to happen to her next. Kind of like a wreck, it's horrible, but sometimes you just can't look away...I guess that's the best way to describe her life.
Publisher: Juno Books
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Point of View: First person
Series / Stand Alone: 1st of Ballad of Kirin Widowmaker series
Purchase information: Amazon
**This book is listed on my bookshelf on PaperbackSwap if you're interested in reading.**