"The Kinder Poison" by Natalie Mae
Thank you Penguin Random House Teen for a copy in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the book:
"Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.
Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.
All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.
With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world." (Goodreads)
This one is an absolute rollercoaster. The author does a great job pacing the book with high-intensity action and slower, more developmental scenes. I always felt like I could catch my breath right before the next big scene occurred.
The writing style is quick, direct, and I was never confused. I also thought everything was well organized and planned out.
At times, I struggled to connect with the characters. Since it is so fast-paced, the slower moments are critical in establishing a connection. I felt like I didn't get to spend enough time with them. Besides Zahru, Maia is my next favorite character. I don't want to say too much, but I thought her story was very intriguing.
Now, my favorite part was the world-building. I always love stories where people have some sort of elemental magic. This one takes it a step further and branches out for a full range of magical abilities. One of the things that was lacking was the full development of the nation. There were some explanations of the social system that were vague that I hope will be addressed in the next book.
This one reminded me of The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. If you are looking for a fast-paced fantasy book, I highly recommend checking this one out.