Every night a Thorn witch burns in order to walk in Death, and in the morning she returns. Penny, the youngest grandchild of the Thorn queen, is about to burn for the first time when one of her sisters doesn’t return. So Penny breaks one of the rules of walking in Death by burning alone and soon finds herself caught up in dangerous currents. All Penny wants to do is keep her sisters safe, but that’s easier said than done when you live under a tyrant.
This is the author’s debut, and it shows, but there’s a lot to like, and I’m hoping that the next book will improve on the strengths. Penny is a great character. It’s clear that she’s beginning see the bigger picture of the ways the Warden oppresses everyone and the ways her family is complicit in that. And she’s trying to figure out what she can do about it. The worldbuilding is great, and the I enjoy a lot of the characters. I also appreciate the fact that rather than a love triangle, we get a throuple. While this might be might be marketed as a “romantasy” (I really hate that term), it’s a lot more fantasy than romance, and the romance very much takes a back seat to the rest the plot.
This was a really solid start to a series, and I am invested in what happens next to these characters. I have a few nitpicks with things, and there are definitely parts of the story that could have been better developed including the romance, but it was engaging and interesting, and I’m really curious to see where the author takes things next. The worldbuilding is really excellent with little snippets of folklore from the world sprinkled through it, and I can’t wait to see how it expands in the next book. Four out of five stars.