Thanks so much to Edelweiss and the publisher for the early copy. You'd think I'd be happy about this, but now I have to wait a million years for book two, and I not okay about this, especially with an ending like that!!
I would like to be like other reviewers and exclaim, "I was so surprised by this book!" or "I was not expecting to like it," but I'm not those people because Tricia Levenseller is an auto-buy author for me, and I knew from the moment she posted the cover reveal on Instagram that I was going to absolutely fall in love with it. In short, I was not surprised that BLADE OF SECRETS blew my gourd. But all of that is a given. What we have here, folks is something completely different.
We have a social anxiety rep in YA fantasy.
I knooooow the release is so far off and I shouldn't post quotes from the book just yet, but I have to do just ONE I need to get out there:
"I've always been a poor sleeper. it often takes me hours to find oblivion, my mind unable to stop thinking about all the things that are troubling me."
Ziva has anxiety. She forges magical weapons and likes to keep to herself. She obsessed over the simplest things; her mind often going into overdrive. She needs time to recharge, to be alone. She has trouble sleeping, and can't look people in the eyes when talking. She hates when people stare at her; it makes her feel like she's on display and that she needs to hide to get away from it.
Ziva is me.
I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have an anxiety rep. Ziva is a heroine all young girls can cheer for. She envies her sister's easy, outgoing attitude and often wonders why she can't be that way too. But she doesn't need to be, because we're all built differently. After she forges a powerful sword for a warlord, she realizes the blade takes secrets from its bearer. She learns of the warlord's intentions and, with her sister, a scholar, and a hired mercenary, she leaves her home to outrun the warlord and keep the blade from enemy hands.
This book had plenty of raw moments. Ziva is not the best fighter, in fact, she seems reluctant to even brandish a weapon. Her anxiety keeps her in a bubble, but knowing the magical sword could hurt others, she comes out of her comfort zone, and that is something to applaud. People with anxiety don't often like change. We'll drive the same road to somewhere, even if it's longer, just because it's something familiar. We like our quiet, and we hate confrontations. For Ziva to do what she did took great bravery on her part.
The world is safe in terms of fantasy books. There's magic, but only for a chosen few. The cities and towns and landscapes all feel familiar.
I loved the whole ragtag band of runaways, although I do hope to see more of Temra in the second installment.
The romance was slow burn-ish and sweet. Kellyn is arrogant, but he's also sweet and cares more than he lets on.
The story moves at breakneck speed. At no point was I ever-grazing over paragraphs.
Reading this book felt like stepping into a world where people are just like you and me and must fight for what's just and right. But there's also the safety of love and family. I believe Ziva is a great role model for young adults who are wondering why they're not like everyone else, and hopefully realize that they are heroes regardless of their mental illness, disability, etc. I am beyond excited for Tricia and for readers to get their hands on this book. It's a special one, and I hope you all love it.