The Serpent & the Wings of Night

Bramble. (Crowns of Nyaxia, Bk. 1). Dec. 2023. 480p. ISBN 9781250343178. $29.99. FANTASY
Oraya, the adopted human daughter of a vampire king, has survived by becoming a living weapon. She jumps at the chance to become something more through the Kejari, a battle royale where the winner gets a goddess’s favor. As the only human competitor, she can’t help but notice when Raihn, a participant from a rival vampire clan, is the most humane person she’s met. When he offers a temporary alliance, she agrees purely for survival. But allowing herself to care for someone in this death tournament puts both their hearts in mortal danger. The book focuses on the tournament and inserts worldbuilding naturally, maintaining a quick pace while drawing readers in further. Emotional intimacy develops slowly and romance even longer. Traumas are handled tenderly, making the violence and betrayal of the tournament hit harder. Motives are multi-pronged, morally gray, and complex, leaving no easy resolution to the ongoing plot.
VERDICT A self-published hit picked up by a big publisher, this series launch from Broadbent (Mother of Death & Dawn) is a haunting, action-packed political fantasy with a doomed romance at its center, full of heartbreak and intrigue.
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