Series: Archives of the Invisible Sword #1
Published by: HarperCollins
ISBN 13: 9781489252814
Published: June 2019
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five
Shyla was raised by monks after she was abandoned as a baby. All sun-kissed/cursed children are, but thankfully the monks don’t believe in such barbaric practices. They did however throw her out when she chose not to join their order, not being able to keep all their discoveries behind closed doors. Instead, she researches and translates old texts for anyone who’ll pay.
One of her main customers is Banqui, who, using her knowledge manages to find the fabled Eyes of Tamburah, jewels that grant magic – at very early into the novel we have the namesake! Woo! The only problem is that when he was bringing back the treasure (for the Eyes are made of diamonds, emeralds, onyx, and topaz) he’s attacked from behind and they’re stolen from him.
The main problem with this, is the Water Prince, the reigning sovereign, has of course decried that any and all things found are his property. And he knew Banqui was searching for them – he funds his digs, after all. And now he thinks Shyla herself, the only other person with the knowledge of what Banqui was doing, has stolen them for herself.
Soon they’re bundled away into the Water Prince’s ‘care’, and Shyla is tasked with retrieving the treasure. If she fails, the cruel threats the Prince is known for will be shown to her and Banqui first hand. Thus, she accepts the task (as if she had a choice).
The most interesting thing early on is the time ticking away to the hottest part of the day, by which, every person who wants to remain living has to go many levels below ground. This sense of urgency and interruption they all face each and every day is an interesting take. The world building was really quite interesting, and sadly, the characters didn’t match up. Shyla was a bit bland though the book was advertised as a Tomb Raider-esque adventure.
The romance was poorly handled.
The side characters were a bit stereotypical and didn’t feel fully formed, and I didn’t really care for how any of them turned out. In a way this felt like a draft product – pretty well there, but needed some further development of just a few tweaks and additions to make these characters feel real, and have a bit more depth to them.
The tone was a little off, too. the characters seemed to fluctuate between their moods from sentence to sentence, and it was just a bit… off. Somehow.
Still, the world building is strong and that kept me reading. And I did really like Shyla’s job and skills. We need more stories about researchers in the world.