I received this e-book from NetGalley and Red Adept Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Palmer Tash always follows the path of least resistance. He has an unusual disability involving his hearing. But in theocratic Latysia, being different isn’t a good thing., so he conceals his problem.
Brier Chastain’s malady is even more debilitating, and she often must take to her bed for long periods. Her days are spent in meaningless pursuits as she awaits and arranged marriage.
When Palmer and Brier are kidnapped on the same night, they meet and discover that their so-called disabilities are actually budding powers. They are the incarnations of Order and Chaos. With their country on the brink of war, the two must step into their predestined roles and learn to take control of their own destinies.
Raining Embers is okay as the first book in Jessica Dall’s new series. I’m just not sure if it had enough “oomph” for me to want to pick up the next book when it comes out.
The main problem for me were Palmer and Brier. They’re likable enough, but I never really connected with either one of them. Despite being born and raised in Latysia, their backgrounds are as dissimilar as can be. Palmer is poor and a ward of the Church. Battling an unusual hearing problem, he does his best to blend in. Brier lives in a world of privilege, yet she is as helpless as Palmer. Every summer Brier becomes physically ill from an odor so foul that she’s prone to fainting spells. Between this and the fact that she’s expected to enter into a loveless arranged marriage with one of her friends, it’s not surprising that she tends to drink a little too much.
The night Palmer and Brier are kidnapped in an odd way, changes their lives for the better. Finally, they both learn exactly what is causing their maladies. Once this happens they also discover they aren’t so helpless after all. As I said, they’re both sweet, likable characters. The problem for me was despite this, and their awe inspiring powers, they still felt flat. I’m assuming (I may be wrong in this) that in the next book a romance will develop between them, but in this book there was absolutely no magnetism between them whatsoever. Their friendship and loyalty to each other is believable, but I honestly can’t see their relationship going any farther than that. If I had been able to become more emotionally invested in either one of them, this would have been fine. A book doesn’t have to have a hot and heavy romance for it to still appeal to me. Unfortunately, due to their lackluster personalities, it just added to the overall weakness of Palmer’s and Brier’s characters.
The worldbuilding is lovely. Latysia has a medieval, religious-based feel to it, and seems based on Italian culture. The Church, which is central to everything, definitely takes a departure from any Judeo-Christian church we’re familiar with. The Church officials in this story are Seers who rely on visions, and star-charting. When the story starts exploring Palmer being the embodiment of Order, and Brier being Chaos, it actually leans more toward Greek mythology. It’s interesting, but it never seems quite fully developed. I kept wanting to know more but wound up feeling unsatisfied. Maybe this was due to it’s relatively short length (it’s 276 pages).
Raining Embers isn’t a “bad” book. The story moves quickly and the ending nicely sets things up for the next book. The problem is that when you have YA readers, and for that matter adults, devouring books by exciting authors such as Sarah Maas (Throne of Glass series) and up-and-coming Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen series), there’s nothing really exciting or unique enough to distinguish this in a very crowded fantasy field.