Author: Heidi Heilig
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, YA
My Rating: 5 Stars
“A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from Heidi Heilig.
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.
Heidi Heilig creates a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism.”
Plot. It’s been a few books since I’ve had a plot suck me in completely. I absolutely adored the asian and french mash up! So unique! It was like an alternate, steam-punk history. Heck to the yeah. I’m all about that. Plus you add in a kick a** heroine who can command souls, and is bi-polar. So. Much. Awesome! It had all the adventure my readers heart could want!
Characters. Jetta had a lot of character growth. At first she was just trying to find a cure. That’s all she cared about. But Leo, mayhaps, changes her mind on fighting in a war? Which by the way, I loved the slow burn between those two. But I want more burn in the second book! I also loved that there were GOOD parents! Jetta’s parents were so sweet and so supportive! It’s rare that you see that in a YA book! I also loved that Heilig blurred the lines a bit with one character in particular, of what was good and bad. He was just trying to do the right thing in this crazy world.
World/ Magic. Heilig did a fantastic job creating this alternate history type world. I found it fascinating to watch how Jetta’s magic came to be and how she can control it! The reader learns about the magic as Jetta learns, so I hope to know more about it in the second book! The shadow player thing is really cool, and gives a nice cover for Jetta to use her magic. I really liked the late 1800 early 1900 feel. I mean, it’s steam punk and that’s generally the period I picture steam punk happening.
Writing. I actually loved the way this was written. It’s not very traditional. It’s written in first person POV, ACTs (as in a play), mini stories, and letters. I like when books are written like that, it gives the reader a unique experience.
Final Thoughts. I obviously loved this book. It was different. I liked that the main character didn’t want to fight right away. She just wanted to get her cure and be done. But she saw the injustices of the world and decided to help. So, if you are looking for something really different from your usual YA, I highly recommend this! Also, that cover is… AWOOGA!