Roweena Miller, 2018

New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.

Premise: Sophie has worked hard to carve out a life for herself. Combining her hereditary skill in casting good luck charms with long training in sewing has eventually led to a somewhat successful shop of her own. Just when it seems that her work will be noticed by a higher class of customer, a group pushing for governmental reforms risks starting a riot that could engulf the city, and her own brother is leading the way.

None of the themes dealt with in this book were groundbreaking or unique, but I don't know that I've ever read a fantasy novel that addresses them directly, and I really appreciated that.

I really enjoyed the nuance and tension in this book. Everyone is complicated. No one knows everything or understands everything. It features a populist uprising in which neither the royalty nor the commoners are fully in the right.

Even though I was sometimes frustrated by her action or inaction, Sophie feeling pulled in many directions felt right. I think the author nailed what she set out to do: present a picture of someone who is neutral in a conflict and explore why. I loved the minor acknowledgment that, like many historical revolutions and movements, these groups claiming to speak for the people and help the common folk aren't proposing reforming laws and customs that disadvantage women.

I liked Sophie's awkwardness about being a second-generation immigrant, with no real ties to her family's home. She's consciously choosing to downplay her heritage to make her business more successful, although she feels conflicted about it. The romance subplot was well-handled and worked better than I would have expected at the start.

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that this is intended to be the first in a series. It definitely stands alone, to the extent that I was startled to read after the end of the text that there will be more.

This is a rare book that I picked up mostly on the strength of the cover. It's lovely, and as a fan of both fantasy and sewing, a good fit for me.

Overall a solid fantasy novel that's enjoyable and worth thinking about.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book


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