Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Since his childhood, Brieden Lethiscir has admired The Sidhe, the beautiful and magical beings native to the Faerie world outside his homeland of Villalu. Though he grew up in a culture accepting of Sidhe enslavement by Villalu’s elite, Brieden turns against the practice when he becomes a steward to Prince Dronyen, who is viciously abusive of his sidhe slave Sehrys. Captivated by the handsome and mysterious sidhe slave, Brieden vows to free and return Sehrys to his homeland.
As they escape the capital and navigate a treacherous path to the border, Breiden and Sehrys grow close. Breiden soon learns both the true power of The Sidhe, and that the world that he thought he knew is not what it once seemed. If they survive to reach the border, he will have to make a choice: the love of his life, or the fate of his world.
The Sidhe is Charlotte Ashe’s first volume in her Fantasy series “The Heart of All Worlds”. And what a strong start it is! The sequel is titled “The King and the Criminal” and I will definitely be reviewing that one as well. So let’s waste no time and take a look at how the journey begins!
When it comes to lore and world building, I believe that the devil really lies in the detail. While for example history and geography form the basis of creating an imaginary world, it’s those precise details about the everyday lives of its inhabitants that allow it to become a seemingly living and breathing organism. Things like what do the people eat, how do they live, what do they work and so on. At least that’s what draws me in the most when reading a fantasy story and I was delighted to discover that the author did not disappoint in that aspect. In contrast to the coexistence of several different races living in one place, this novel introduces two main cultures that exist in a kind of tense proximity and yet largely separated from one another: humans and the Sidhe (elf-like beings). Both societies offer rather different takes on a variety of subjects from ways of living to attitudes towards sexuality. The only things they seem to have in common are feelings of distrust, fear and ignorance towards each other. I especially found the unveiling of the shared history of these two peoples quite fascinating. Themes of race, subjugation and freedom feature heavily in this story and are addressed from several different points of view.
I took a liking to both main characters and found myself rather invested into their relationship since they make simply an adorable couple. Brieden is a kind, brave young man who finds himself before a big decision: staying complacent and giving up on his true believes or risking his very life and future. I deeply respect him for his courage in choosing the latter. His care and devotion to his partner were as heart-warming to witness as Sehrys in turn slowly starting to warm up and eventually coming to trust Brieden. What I also found most interesting when it comes to Sehrys was learning about how the six years he spent in slavery affected and changed him.
Despite the fact that I found those two very likeable and was rooting for them all the way, my absolute favourites were amongst the supporting characters: queen Brissa and her sister Cliope, who intrigued me so much that I wish they could have their very own story, as well as Firae, who features as a protagonist in the second book. In fact, the only flaw I might give this novel is the fact that I found myself wishing that these characters would feature more prominently and we would get to learn more about them.
The sex scenes were very well done which is good because there are quite a lot of them! Still, they never really felt out of place and although they are quite steamy and described in vivid detail, you can tell that the author always tried to give them meaning and draw them as an important aspect of the characters’ relationship to each other. They are mostly m/m with only a brief hint of f/f. There are mentions of sexual abuse and rape.
This book was a wonderful read and had me engaged into the world, the narrative and the characters from start to finish. If you like fantasy or just a touching romance story against all odds, you should definitely pick up this book. I know I certainly am looking forward to delving into the second volume of this series!
The cover and interior illustrations by Sarah Sanderson are simply beautiful, they caught my attention right away. The drawing of Brieden and Sehrys framed by their special red flowers is a lovely piece of art and sets a wonderful stepping stone for entering their magical world. I also want to give credit for the map illustration by Sarah Sanderson and R.J. Shepherd.
ebook, 442 pages
Published July 21, 2015
by Interlude Press
Edition Language: English