Originally published on my blog [a cup of tea and an armful of books].
The premise of Furyborn is the legend of two queens: one of light and one of blood. Legrand takes the legend of these two queens and sets them miles––and years––apart. As the story spans across centuries, the legend of the two queens becomes just that––a legend. But when a girl who can't be injured comes along, people begin to believe that perhaps it's not just a legend.
To start off, I think that the premise for this book is amazing. I love the idea of things that don't seem connected at first, especially when they involve the falls of kingdoms and of powerful women who don't downplay their talents. It's something that I love seeing in books, because I feel like there's a ton of female characters who write off their talents. This was not the case for Rielle and Eliana. They both know that they're talented––one with the elements and one with knives––and they're both really unapologetic about it. There need to be more women like this in fiction. Having the book focused on the two of them made it really enjoyable, and I liked how both of their perspectives were super different. Their lives were so different too and seeing that contrast showed more of the world than if they'd both come from the same background.
The worldbuilding in this novel was great! The world was easily my favorite part about this novel. It was really interesting to see how Legrand built up the world by subtly putting in information as Rielle was going through the elemental trials. It was just enough that I really wanted to know more––or perhaps I could read some prequels about the Saints?? please and thank you––without taking away from the rest of the story. This novel kind of has two different settings and worlds, too; even though both Rielle and Eliana technically exist in the same world, they exist a thousand years apart. That means that Rielle's reality, the one that we're shown with angels and magic, is not Eliana's reality. In fact, so many years have passed that people don't really believe that magic ever existed. They think that they're just stories. I loved that we could see these two settings side by side because of the dual perspective. I also really appreciated that Legrand showed negatives and positives to both times and didn't make one better than the other.
Something that I thought was unique to this novel was the angel element. I loved that they weren't good. I feel like there's always this thing in YA that angels are the good guys (send me recommendations if I'm wrong!), but I always had the impression that angels weren't always good. They weren't bad, but they followed a very strict set of rules that set them apart from humans. Unfortunately, this angel element wasn't explored as fully as I wanted it to be. It seemed like there'd be more on them, but they took a position in the background of the book. The groundwork is laid for them to appear in subsequent books, so I really hope that's what happens. I want to know more about this part of the Furyborn world.
There's a lot about this book that wouldn't be able to happen if there wasn't two perspectives, and for the most part I really enjoyed both of them. I definitely was interested in each of their stories. But...
there's a small problem with having two perspectives.
I went into Furyborn knowing that the book would be about two women who were connected in some way but separated by 1000 years. But what I didn't know was that every single chapter would switch back and forth between them. That's what didn't work for me. I was really interested in both storylines and both main characters, but I could never get into their stories. At least not one hundred percent. Almost every time a chapter ended, it was on a cliffhanger. And when that happened, I found myself rushing through the next chapter in order to get back to the action of the other. But by the time I returned, some of the element of shock had dissipated, which was disappointing.
I do have to agree with other reviewers who have said this feels like two books. I think that it's because of the abruptness of the POVs. I wish that they'd been integrated more. I think that if I'd been allowed to read a few chapters in one point of view before it switched to the other, my reading experience would have been more coherent.
The two point of view thing is something that ultimately brought down my rating. This book was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, but ultimately it was only okay for me. I really enjoyed reading it, but I also don't really feel like much happened? Or too much happened so not enough time was spent on the events that did happen? I still haven't decided. Ultimately, I think that Furyborn does a good job setting up the next two books in the Empirium series. It's like a big prologue where enough information is teased to the reader but everything important will happen in the next couple of books.
There's so much potential in this that it's kind of disappointing that I didn't enjoy it more. I recommend this for readers who like fantasy with an epic scope and powerful female characters.