Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.
Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.
DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.
To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.
Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores’ breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!
(From the book blurb)
The world created by Francesca Flores is full of violent gangs, ruthless assassins, orphans and spies. The religion is based on blood magic and can be used to either save lives and create shelter in case of need or to kill in the most horrible manner. This forbidden religion uses rough diamonds to focus the magic and has been outlawed by Steels, people who own technology and industry (we are talking about electricity, steel plants and factories, not computers or spaceships).
The protagonist of the book, Aina Solis was orphaned at the age of eight, when her parents were shot while practising their religion. Aina survived on the streets for four years and then was rescued by Kohl Pavel, the Blood King, who turned her into a trained assassin. He also brainwashed her into believing that ‘good things do not happen to girls who come from nothing’, instilled a fear of falling from her dubious grace and taught her to think of herself as a weapon, part of a service, not somebody responsible for taking away lives. When Kohl offers her an extremely dangerous job to do, almost a suicide mission, all she thinks about is not the person who is going to die, but the money she is going to earn and her freedom to open her own tradehouse.
Aina isn’t exactly a likeable character, although you can see straighaway she is going to change and see the error of her ways. She is too confused, too mistrustful, too insecure. I had less trouble warming up to other characters: Teo who felt a life of crime was the only way to buy medicine for his dying mother, gentle Ryuu, almost too ready to understand and see the situation from the other person’s point of view, even Tannis, another ‘Blade’ (Assassin) in Kohl’s group of misfits and protegees.
The book is action-packed, although the pace is a bit uneven. There are also flashbacks to Aina’s past to help the reader understand how she got to be what she is and her relationship with Kohl. I felt that some things were a bit repetitive and could have been edited to make the book shorter and more focused. Having said it, I read the book quite quickly and put aside other novels, because it does have that addictive quality that makes it difficult to put it down. Will be looking forward to reading the second part of this duology to see if Aina manages to save her dark world.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Wednesday Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.