Series: Blood and Gold #1
Published by Del Rey Books on March 6th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The first novel in an exciting new fantasy series by Kim Wilkins, Daughters of the Storm follows the story of five very different royal sisters who must put aside their differences and come together to save their kingdom.
These sisters are so different from one another, at times, it’s hard to believe that they share the same blood. There’s Bluebell, the eldest, a fierce warrior who has been trained by her father to rule the kingdom of Thyrsland someday. She is feared by all and actually rumored to be unkillable in battle. Then there’s Ash, a gentler soul than Bluebell. Ash is studying to be a healer but has discovered she has the ability to see the future. As she struggles to learn more about and control this ability, she becomes more and more torn about whether being a seer is a gift or a curse. The third sister is Rose, and Rose is ruled by her passion. Her father married her off to the ruler of a neighboring kingdom, as a way to form an alliance and keep the peace. Rose, however, does not love her husband and is willing to risk peaceful relations between the kingdoms by pursuing a forbidden love. And finally, there are the twins Willow and Ivy, who have been living with a distant relative for a while and left to their own devices. For Willow, being left to her own devices translates to her joining a new religion and behaving as though she’s a brainwashed member of a cult. For Ivy, it means being vain and flirtatious and trying to bed any man she desires.
When their father, the King, is stricken by a mysterious illness that appears to have magical roots, the sisters, led by Bluebell who appears to be the most devoted to their father, come together in a desperate attempt to save his life and their kingdom. Not only do they need to track down a powerful witch who can cure the King, but they must also do so while not letting word get out that the King is near death. They have enough trouble on their hands trying to keep their treacherous stepbrother from stealing the throne; the last thing they need is to alert the rest of the King’s enemies that he is vulnerable should they wish to mount an attack.
What an exciting and fast-paced read this was! I originally picked it up because I liked the idea of these sisters who would normally have little to do with one another being forced to come together to save their father. But in many ways, it was so much more than that. Not only are these sisters different from each other, but they also differ in their devotion to their father. Bluebell, even though she would become ruler of the kingdom if her father were to die and is clearly ready to rule, is desperate to save his life at all costs. Ash appears to be similarly devoted, but the younger three seem almost indifferent as to whether they save him or not. They are annoyed they have been summoned from their lives to be a part of this rescue mission. That was quite unexpected and added a layer of depth to the story I wasn’t expecting going into it and I wanted to know more about why each of them felt the way they did.
I got my opportunity to learn much more about each sister too as the story is presented to us from the alternating points of view of all five sisters, not to mention a few chapters from the stepbrother’s point of view as well. At first I thought so many POVs would be too confusing and would bog down my reading experience, but Wilkins does a great job of incorporating each POV in a way that wasn’t confusing while still advancing the overall plot. I think the sisters being so different probably helped with that. I never got one mixed up with another. I also really loved getting inside of each sister’s head because wow, they are each holding on to some secrets that if they got out, could easily bring down their kingdom whether their father lives or not.
I also really liked the complicated family dynamic with the Queen as stepmother to the five sisters instead of their birth mother. In many ways the Queen sets most of the drama into motion because of her assumption that Bluebell and the girls hate her and will expel her from the castle if their father dies. Because of this fear, instead of sending word out to the girls first when their father falls ill, she summons her son instead. She wants him there in case they try to throw her out. This just opens up a whole can of worms as Bluebell finds out elsewhere that her father is ill and thus immediately suspects that her stepmother and stepbrother are up to something. Getting on Bluebell’s bad side from the get go probably wasn’t the smartest move.
As far as the sisters themselves, my reaction was a bit mixed. Bluebell and Ash were, by far, my favorites. I admired the fierceness of Bluebell and the fact that people truly were scared to death of her. I chuckled a few times throughout when people referred to her as Princess and then practically fell over themselves apologizing after receiving a death glare from her. It becomes clear that it’s well known throughout the kingdom that she hates the term Princess and wishes only to be addressed as My Lord. I found Ash to be equally as interesting as Bluebell, and I liked that they did appear to be pretty close unlike the other sisters. I also enjoyed the subplot involving Ash’s seer abilities that ran alongside the main storyline of the book. It was fascinating to watch her learn more about and control her abilities, which are apparently a bit more than being able to see the future, to help on their quest to save their father, and I liked the self-sacrificing side of Ash that comes out whenever she thinks her abilities may cause others to be hurt.
Strangely enough, in many ways, however, the most interesting character was the stepbrother, Wylm. I think what I liked about him was that he was such a complicated character and kept me guessing throughout the story as to how much of a villain he really was. At first I was okay with him, but then I hated him. Then a bit later, something else happened and I thought “Hmmm, maybe he does have some redeeming qualities” and so on. If you enjoy complicated characters, he’s definitely the one to keep your eyes on.
I didn’t have a lot of issues with this book, but I did have a couple. The first of which is the name Bluebell. I know it’s shallow and nitpicky to get hung up on a character’s name, but I just found it distracting, especially every time she was referred to as Bluebell the Fierce. It’s hard to think of a character as a fierce warrior with a name like that. So yeah, shallow nitpick from me because I loved everything about Bluebell except her name, but there it is.
The other issue I had was that I didn’t like the other three sisters at all. Aside from the drama they added to the plot with their secrets and their willingness to betray one another and their kingdom, I just didn’t find them nearly as compelling as Bluebell and Ash. I’m wondering if they’ll play more important roles in later novels in the series, but for this one, most of the time they just felt like background noise to me.
Even with the couple of issues I had, I still thought Daughters of the Storm was an exciting read and I look forward to seeing where Wilkins takes the story next. If you’re into strong female characters, with a side of secrets, lies, and betrayal, this is a fantasy world you’ll want to immerse yourself in.
Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.
FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.
They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.
But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.