This was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.
I haven’t read it in a very long time, but I was immediately put in my mind of Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer series, because part of the point of this story is that people can talk to, and be influenced by, gems. I seem to recall that things didn’t always go well for Killashandra and her friends, and of course this story only exists because things go wrong for the two main characters, and indeed their entire world (well, valley).
The good thing about this story is that it focuses on the relationship between two young women: a Jewel, youngest scion of the royal family, and her lapidary or bound servant. Their discussions about duty and oaths and what to do when faced with crisis were interesting enough.
However. There were a few things where the book just misses its mark.
For a start there’s no discussion about the morality or not of having a (literally) bound servant. Sima is not a slave, but it’s a near run thing. That made me uncomfortable.
Additionally, there were narrative aspects that could have worked but just didn’t quite get there. Firstly, there are some breaks in the narrative where a ‘modern’ travel guide apparently describes the area where the actual story is taking place – a tactic that can add unexpected depth or twists to stories, I’ve found – but these break-ins didn’t do that. They didn’t seem to match the story parts they were paired with, and they were too superficial to add much to the story. Secondly, while I’m not a reader who demands every part of a story be filled in, I felt like there were too many gaps in this story; too many times where I think the idea was that lucanae are alluring and tantalising but this was just frustrating and confusing.
Overall I didn’t mind the story but I didn’t feel that it had much substance to completely make up for the bits that frustrated.