This book was an entertaining read! The characters were likable, and I thought the idea of the rosemarked and the umbertouched was fascinating. I think the world-building of Ampara and Dara was adequate, just enough to put the reader into the setting. Zivah’s skill with herbs and snakes made her an interesting character. There wasn’t as much romance as I had been expecting, so it definitely was not insta-love. The relationship between Dineas and Zivah developed slowly.
I did have mixed feelings about the potion that could wipe Dineas’ memories, then bring them back after one drink. On one hand, it is a really creative concept. But on the other, it eliminated a potential source of tension in the story; it made it really easy for the “new” Dineas, emotionally, to get along with the Amparans. If he had remained the “old” Dineas,” there would have been more potential for deeper emotional turmoil and opportunity to explore the times when he zones out because of his past trauma. I sometimes had a hard time reconciling the two versions of Dineas. When the “old” Dineas states his feelings, it felt quite blunt and I hadn’t expected it at that moment because I didn’t feel the romantic connection between that Dineas and Zivah so deeply. There was the possibility of him losing his memories for good as a result of the potion, but that danger was not really explored either. And there were some other places where I felt there could’ve been more tension/conflict. One example would be Dineas’ training with the Amparan soldiers; his test to get into the elite group seemed fairly easy for him.
Also, perhaps the potion felt out of place because it seemed to be presented as herb science, which is more rational and not “magic.” But for something “scientific,” controlling someone’s memory with a potion felt slightly far-fetched since there is no other “magic” in the story. Instead, Zivah demonstrates her intelligence through her herb skills, which are really cool.
The beginning drew me in, but I did notice a slower pace in the middle chunk of the book. However, it picked back up nicely at the end. The exciting ending made me want to find out what happens in the next part of Dineas and Zivah’s journey! Overall, this was an engaging story with lovely writing!
[Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. Review originally posted on Goodreads on August 16, 2017.]