A little bit of everything you love.
Leena is a beast charmer. She’s basically a badass version of Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts. She’s been exiled from the land of the charmers and forced to take care of herself, which has lead to her capturing and selling beasts on the black market. This practice is highly illegal and every step she takes becomes more dangerous as someone puts a bounty on her.
Noc is the leader of the Cruor, a group assassins who have been raised from the dead. He also has a curse set upon him in which anyone he loves ends up dying. His life kinda sucks. The Cruor are hired to kill Leena but their first attempt fails as Leena and her beasts are more powerful than imagined. After their attempt fails, Noc strikes a deal with her. He will allow her to live in exchange for her catching a particular beast for him, one that grants the owner one wish, and he wants his curse gone.
Of course, there’s sexual tension between Leena and Noc as well as some fantasy adventure and the mystery surrounding who hired Noc to kill Leena. Throw in some amusing side characters and you’ve got yourself a heck of a quest, baby!
I really enjoyed this book, far more than I thought I would. Leena was a super fun character and I ADORED the beasts. Having the bestiary in the back was very enjoyable to turn back to, I only wish there was art of every creature as I was struggling to envision some of them. The story was a solid fantasy, the world building was great, and I loved all the side characters along for the ride.
Some other reviewers have mentioned the fact that this reads like a YA novel as a slight on it, but I disagree. If I want to read heavy, high fantasy there’s plenty of other options. This book is almost fantasy light; enough to fulfill the quota for the genre but light enough for those who aren’t necessarily fantasy fans to enjoy. This does read like a YA novel with adult characters, but for me, that’s a plus. It was an easy but compelling read and I had a lot of fun with the story. As a character, Noc was a little disappointing to me because he was so down on life and inward throughout most of the book, and thus I didn’t really see why Leena was so attracted to him (aside from physically), but hey that’s romance novels. It’s sort of par for the course. Personally, all the other Cruor men were way more interesting to me than Noc, but it looks like the sequel to this is going to cover more of Noc’s backstory which may round him out as a character.
All in all, a really fun read. The page count is enormous, but that number also includes a snipped from the next book and the bestiary, so it read much more quickly than I was originally thinking.
Title: Kingdom of Exiles
Author: Maxym M. Martineau
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Three Descriptors:World-building, Reluctant allies, Enemies to Lovers
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