*actual reaction after finishing The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso*
*attempts to calm down so she can properly write this review*
*tries for a third time*
You have got to read this book.
*succeeds, finally. Now, onward with the review*
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I actually, um, read this book before it was published.
(I know, right? This is probably one of the coolest claims of street cred I’ve ever had.)
I read a copy in the middle draft stages, as a beta reader thanks to my amazing internship with Naomi Davis. But even then, I could see how shiny every gem that decorated this crown of a story sparkled. With every draft, Caruso continued to polish and hone this story, until it became the glorious beauty that, mere days ago, was published for the entire world to read.
Selfishly, I put it on hold at the library so I could reread it just days after publication, because that’s how desperately I wanted to return to the world of Raverra.
Here’s why you should read it:
Seriously, from the first page, you are just completely drawn into this world, to the point where, when people try and draw you out of it, it’s almost a physical pain, because you just become ensnared and enamored so …effortlessly. It’s beautifully written and I love how we see so many aspects within this world, from the highest elite to the saddest pickpocket (and it gets even better when those juxtapositions clash and get mixed together, which happens constantly in this book, continually pulling at your heartstrings and making your opinions switch and complicate and question and GAH). I’m also thoroughly impressed by the way this book gives so much depth this world, yet also teases us enough to ensure that we don’t know everything yet–but we’re certainly hungry for more.
The beautiful magic system!
Mage-marked innocents being conscripted through the magical power of jesses into the order of the Falconers and thus bound with someone without magic who has the power to control theirs, for the good of the realm in Raverra. Magical Witch Lords in Vaskandar who hold power specifically because of their magic. A struggling populace in Ardence whose opinions–and loyalty–to the Serene Empire sway like the tide.
I know, right? How can so much yes fit into one book?
The intricacy of the plot!
This book is the definition of a page-turner. I may or may not have read it in 150 page chunks over the span of half a week. I may or may not also have snuck in the last 20 at my desk at work, because the ending is just…whoa. Everything is so perfectly placed, so wonderfully interwoven to deliver the correct information just when you need it most, with twists you don’t see coming.
The budding relationship between Lady Amalia Cornaro and Zaira!
The characters are, by far, my favorite aspect of this book. I love how three-dimensional every single one of them are and how quickly I’ve formed a very deep attachment for them. But Amalia and Zaira deserve special notice: Amalia for her growth and truly becoming the woman she’s been both raised and created herself to be; and Zaira for her sharp tongue, purposeful lack of social graces, fantastic wit and fearlessness regarding speaking the truth.
To get absolute chills from the badass scene on page 342!
I can’t write anything without giving this way, but holy goodness, I actually had to put the book down after reading that scene, because damn.
If you follow this blog or know me in person or even just interact with me online, you know I love books. You know I love reading. You know I love really fantastic stories told with a passionate voice that feels alive. You know I love fantasy stories that remind me why I write in the first place, that challenge my creativity by saying, “Hey, this is how it’s done, so hurry up and finish your novels so we can hang out at the bookstore and rip readers’ hearts out together, eh?” (Because books talk to one another on the shelves. Obviously.) You know I love characters that feel like friends (or enemies) by the end, whose lives I become so invested in, that it borderline questions my sanity levels. You know I love intricate plots, wonderful magic, colorful banter, dashes (or full on dumps) of romance, characters that challenge and complement one another and worlds I wish I could live in. You know I love to read hours past my bedtime because “one more chapter” has unspokenly become my mantra, yet again, and you know, if I book manages to do all of these things, that I’ll talk your ear off until the end of time about how you need to read that book.
Well, The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso is that book, friends. And more.