{ Review } Radiance by Grace Draven

4 stars“You make a very handsome dead eel, my husband,” “For a boiled mollusk, you wear black quite well, my wife,”

Read in June 2020

What a refreshing book! Honestly, everything about it was unexpected and went against every usual trope. If you are tired of the usual “beautiful girl meets sexy alpha male, she loves him and, in the end, she realizes he loves her back”, this book might be made for you. The romance was compelling and it made me laugh so many times, it really was a feel-good book, even though the story itself wasn’t happy. The two main characters had the shoulders to carry the book, their relationship was fierce and their feelings came gradually, therefore I believed in their story. Their banter and humour took a great part of this book, this book made me feel happy and gave me hope. They were ‘human’, kind and real, and in my opinion, there is no other way to describe a perfect set of characters.

In Radiance, the first instalment in the Wraith Kings series, where we follow Ildiko and Brishen who are forced into marriage to strengthen alliances between their two kingdoms. Both of them are part of their kingdom’s royal families but are insignificant enough so that their only value is to be married off by their respective families in a prospect of strengthening a key alliance. They also are from different races, Ildiko is Human, niece of the Gauri king, and she always knew that her only fate would be arranged marriage, though she didn’t expect her groom to be from a different race. Brishen is the youngest Prince of the Kai (grey skin, yellow eyes with no pupils, sharp triangular teeth and black pointy razor claws for nails, live during the night) and he is of no use to his family’s line; his older brother is ready to be king after their father’s death and he even has kids of his own so no one expects Brishen to ever be needed to rule.

“You find me ugly, don’t you?” “Hideous. A hag of a woman. And you? You don’t think me a handsome man?” “Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”

While they couldn’t be more different, their lack of importance brings them together. They already knew that they would find each other ugly, almost repulsed by the other’s appearance, but the quick comfortable ease they feel when they are together as well as the mutual respect and growing emotional connection shows the prevalence of inner beauty over outer beauty. In terms of appearances, their features are opposite and yet they were kindred spirits, sharing many personality traits such as kindness, respect, intelligence and of course humour. They started this book as allies, they knew that they had to live together and decided to be equals. But after months of platonic friendship, their feelings slowly turn into a beautiful and slow-burn romance that was so heartwarming to read about.

The world-building was interesting even though I wish the author would have gone more in-depth into some parts of it. The plot was a bit weak but since the book was short, I guess it was good enough. I liked how Brishen guided Ildiko (as well as the reader) step by step into the Kai word, it made the reading easy and flowing. The two main characters were really enjoyable, for once I have nothing bad to say about them, none had a single annoying personality trait, they were rational and open-minded and I loved it. The relationship between them was totally free of unnecessary drama and I think it was one of the things I want to applaud the most about this book. I also fell in love with Anhuset, Brishen cousin’s and his army’s commander. She clearly has the potential to be one of my favourite characters in the sequel.

“This should never have happened, Brishen. We were unimportant, you and I. We weren’t supposed to mean anything to anyone.” “Woman of day,” he said slowly. “You mean everything to me.”

I’m definitely interested to continue my journey with this series and to start Eidolon up next. I love characters driven books but I definitely expect to have more answers in term of world-building and politics as well as an action-packed plot. I’ve read about the endearing love story with funny banter – and I want it still – but I also want to have more of the ‘fantasy’ and a credible villain. I also, I want to know more about some of the side characters. So yeah, a lot of expectations, I hope the sequel will not disappoint. I’m rating this book with a 4 even though there were parts that could be better because, at one point in a reader’s life, you realize that novelty is not that common, and I want to celebrate the fact that this book was overall a nice surprise.

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Have you read or will you read this book? What did you think about it?

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French Book Blogger and avid reader 📚 - YA, Adult, NA, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance -, LGBT & disability rep 🏳️‍🌈, Ravenclaw Potterhead △⃒⃘, English teacher 👩🏼‍🏫 living to travel 🌍, proud mom of Padfoot 🐕 and Juniper 🐈

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