About the Book:
Title: The Starlight Blade
Author: Nancy O’Toole
Series: The Twin Kingdoms #4
Publication Date: Feb. 2, 2022
Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing
Synopsis: The Warrior Princess
Viola Verdis would do anything to protect her family. But what can she can do against The Mage King—an ancient enemy who hides in the shadows and uses others as pawns? With the royal family scattered for their own protection, it falls to Viola to protect her father, King Valient. But The Mage King’s latest weapon has plenty of tricks up her sleeve.
An Assassin in Disguise
Rue regrets joining The Mage King in his quest to sacrifice the royal family. And now, his magic burns in her chest, tying her to his will. By day, she disguises herself as a kitchen maid, masked by her cloak of many furs. By night, she plans King Valient’s demise, armed with the weapons of her late mother, Kelvia’s most notorious assassin. Only one person stands in her way, the king’s ever-present and infuriatingly beautiful daughter, Viola. Viola draws Rue in like no one has ever done before. But following her heart is impossible when she knows what she must do.
Spill royal blood, or die.
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I was so excited to read Viola’s story since we were introduced to her in A Dance With Magic. Sister to Victor, the hero of The Wayward Tower, Viola is everything I thought she’d be and more. Smart, skilled, and strong, Viola dares to challenge societal norms. She is a fierce fighter and very loyal to her people and her family. There is nothing she wouldn’t do to protect those she loves, which she proves throughout her story. I like that Viola stays true to herself and fights for what and who she believes in. Her journey isn’t always easy, but she never gives up.
The story is told from dual perspectives, so you get to really understand the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of both Viola and Rue. Rue is as layered and interesting as Viola, though their stories are very different. Rue finds herself in a deadly predicament, and she often appears to lack choices. It’s interesting to see how Rue handles what she has to do even though it’s not what she wants to do.
The novella also makes good use of flashbacks to further develop the characters and provide context for the relationships and events that led to the tumultuous present. There is a lot of suspense, intrigue, and action, and the flashbacks heighten the intensity and reveal just how much is at stake for the characters and the kingdom. I also love the magical elements and how the author retells classic stories in such a fresh and unique way.
Another aspect of the story that I loved is the slow-building enemies-to-lovers romance between Viola and Rue. The women have a connection from the start, though they try to fight it, and their chemistry is strong even as they try to resist their growing feelings for each other. The pair can’t trust each other, and many secrets, suspicions, and lies stand in their way. Plus, The Mage King looms over them as an ever-present and increasingly deadly threat. Like the other relationships in the previous novellas, many obstacles make this romance seem impossible. Time is literally running out for Rue, and it’s interesting to see how she and Viola face these high-stakes conflicts while still dealing with their feelings for each other.
I thought this was a great conclusion to The Twin Kingdoms series. It has compelling characters, a unique fantasy world, an intriguing plot, and a lovely romance. I would definitely recommend the novella and the series as a whole to lovers of fairy tale retellings, ya fantasy, or romance, and I’m super thankful to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
- The intrigue!
- The romance.
It never feels like enough when someone you love is in danger.
It takes a lot of courage to admit when you need help, and the people that often need it the most have the hardest time asking.
Want to learn more about the series? Check out my reviews of the first three books!
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