Series: The Beast Charmer #1
Published by Sourcebook Casablanca on June 25th 2019
Source: Netgalley, Sourcebook Casablanca
Buy on Amazon
Exiled beast charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep trouble. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts on the black market—an offense punishable by death—and now there's a price on her head. With the realm's most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can't refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.
If only it were that simple. Unbeknownst to Leena, the undying ones are bound by magic to complete their contracts, and Noc cannot risk his brotherhood of assassins...not even to save the woman he can no longer live without.
KINGDOM OF EXILES
by Maxym Martineau
Kingdom of Exiles is the first in the Beast Charmer series and I’m so happy I took a chance to read this debut. As per usual, the first in a new fantasy series is a little on the slower side, at least the first half – building a vast, detailed world like this one takes a lot of descriptive writing and doesn’t help the story move forward. But make no mistake – this world is absolutely stunning, creative and imaginative. I love every single colorful aspect of it and I didn’t mind one bit to read about its complexity.
Charmers are coveted and admired in this realm. They tame beasts that come with a multitude of different abilities, from healing over granting wishes to offensive and defensive magic. Leena is a charmer but she has been exiled from the charmers’ world due to transgressions of a former lover which she has been accused of. Our hero, Noc, is the leader of the Assassin’s Guild, tasked with the assassination of Leena. Their first meeting is more than awkward and problematic as you can imagine. Leena offers a counter deal: a beast for Noc and his closest friends in exchange for the guild to drop the order. Together they journey to places far away and form an unusual friendship. Unbeknownst to her is there no way out of the killing contract, so while Leena dutifully delivers the beasts, Noc struggles with the knowledge what he will have to do in the near future.
She treated each creature with the devoted love and attention of a mother. E-Class to B-Class, they were the same to her. She stroked chins, ruffled feathers, cooed words of pure happiness, and placed gentle kisses with her flushed lips. Why anyone wanted to kill this woman was beyond me.
Noc is a troubled man, cursed by a priestess to bestow illness on everyone he shows love. My heart ached for him, he was lonely in a way no one should be. His craving for a deep connection was desperate and sad. He kept pushing away the people he cared most about, so I was really glad to get his point of view, otherwise I would have gotten whiplash from his changing emotions. Emotions that ran incredibly deep. This man’s love for the people he considered family was endless.
She was the ache in my heart. The breath in my lungs. This was Leena. This was my life.
Leena was lonely in her own way. She lost everything after being exiled and had to make a living selling her beasts, a punishable offense, often by death. Her longing for a real family and friends was just as desperate but trust didn’t come easy. I loved Leena’s inert sweetness, her capacity for love, her tenacity and will to survive. She was a kickass heroine.
When it came to us, there were just too many thorns. But damn if I didn’t want to cut them all down and see what grew.
I loved Noc and Leena’s connection, especially after every obstacle in the way of their relationship was removed it turned into a selfless, tender love that touched me deeply. Leena’s passion and love for her beasts was another of my favorite things in this new series. Noc’s friends, Calem, Ozias and Kost complete the couple with their loyalty and very well fleshed-out characters.
Kingdom of Exiles is a treat for every fantasy lover who enjoys a complex magical world with a heavy dose of romance and a surprising amount of steam. I loved the creativity, the beasts, who all had their own personality, and the characters that brought this world to life. The writing is the kind I adore – almost poetic in parts. This story picks up in intensity and action in the second half and ends on a cliffy. I’m looking forward to continuing my adventures in this realm with this group of people.
Never again would I lose her. Never again would she endure the horrors still lingering in her teary gaze. Never. She was mine to protect and love. And I would follow her anywhere.