Pros: Sexy, intriguing, and compelling
Cons: A character or two lacking in depth
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review ebook provided free by publisher via NetGalley.
Expected publication date: April 28, 2015.
M.J. Scott’s The Shattered Court: A Novel of the Four Arts introduces us to Lady Sophia Kendall. In just a few days she’ll have her 21st birthday. She has a touch of royal blood–she’s number 32 in line for the throne–and any woman of royal blood has a chance of manifesting earth witchery on her 21st birthday. The amount of power she has (or has not) will mostly determine what sort of marriage match she’ll make. All royal witches are bound to the service of a goddess, and then bound into the service of their husbands. This limits their power and funnels it for others’ uses. Unfortunately for Sophie, an attack on the castle leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere with only a royal guard (Cameron) for company when she turns 21. Her power comes in loud and clear, but it results in her power becoming tangled with Cameron’s, meaning she can’t be bound to the goddess or a husband. It also means that she and Cameron will be joined at the hip from here on out, and neither of them is sure of how they feel about that–or how the other feels about it. Trust won’t come easily, and there are quite a few people who see them as a threat. Each of them has had a comparatively simple life until now, and that’s about to come crashing down around their ears. But at least they have each other to lean on.
It’s one of those mornings when it’s really hard to focus, and I’m not sure where to start in a review of The Shattered Court. It’s filled with excellent intrigue, scheming figures of power, illicit relationships, unusual abilities, unlikely allies, and a constantly changing sense of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. The sex is delightful. I loved the main characters and had enough of a stake in their lives that I felt impatient to get to the betrothals and weddings. I had butterflies in my stomach, and it isn’t all that often that fictional weddings can do that to me. I even shed a few tears here and there, which is a great indicator of an engrossing and emotional read.
Sophie and Cameron are delightful characters. It’s true that there isn’t much surprise to Sophie having unusually powerful gifts, given that this is fiction, but it worked out in interesting enough ways that I didn’t feel let down by that. I would have liked to get to know Cameron’s family a little better, but there may be time for that in later books. I very much want to read the next book now–this is one of those things where you suddenly find yourself at the end of the book going, “It can’t be over yet! I want more!” I also found myself babbling to my husband about the interesting world-building, which is probably the best sign that I’ve gotten sucked into a fictional world. I love the fact that magical power in this world comes with certain expectations and obligations, and I want to learn more about the goddess who has such a hold over the royal witches.
My only minimal complaint is that one of the major villains seemed lacking in depth, but we might find out more in later books, so I wouldn’t worry much there.
I hope the follow-on books come comparatively quickly, because I might go a little nuts waiting!