TW: Self Harm
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, 2021).
Things I Enjoyed: The highlight of this book for me was the friendship between the revenant and Artemisia. This was very much the story of two lonely outcasts who find themselves forced together and slowly grow to like and trust one another. There are multiple moments where as the reader we see their visible and invisible scars. The scene where Artemisia comforts the revenant was one of the most touching in the book.
Things I Didn’t Like: I felt like this book was incomplete. The world had a lot of gaps in it, which may have been intentional, but left me feeling unsatisfied I would have liked to better understand how the magic worked in this universe and who the individual revenants were. I also felt like all the characters other than Artemisia and the revenant were under developed.
Overall Thoughts: I found this to be a story with a lot of unrealized potential. It was a decent story, but struggled to hold my attention. I’m not sure that I will be picking up book 2. This was a 3 out of 5 star read for me.
Quotes I Enjoyed:
Personally I didn’t mind. I preferred the company of the dead to that of the living. They didn’t gossip about me, for one thing.