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Earth, Air, Fire And Wine

There's not enough magic wine in all of the kingdoms to make incest ok.

Earth, Air, Fire And Wine

BOOK REPORT for Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms Book 1) by Morgan Rhodes

Cover Story: Fantastical
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: -5
Talky Talk: No Frills Fantasy
Bonus Factor: Wine
Anti-Bonus Factor: FITA
Relationship Status: Drunk Conversation at the Bar

Cover Story: Fantastical

Call me an eleven-year-old boy, but I think this cover is totally sweet. I mean, a mysterious cloaked figure? With not one but TWO daggers? And a castle and A FREAKING HAWK in the background? YES. Watch out, Fancy Dress Covers, cos this ninja assassin is COMING FOR YOU.

The Deal:

Since this novel is high fantasy, there are approximately a billion characters and storylines. I'll try my best to make this introductory summary concise, but it'll probably sound a little crazy, due all of the layers of plot and the fact that, well, this book IS actually a little crazy. So, the story spans three kingdoms: affluent Auranos in the south, dirt poor Paelsia in the middle and austere Limeros in the north. There's always been tension between the three nations, due to differences in economy and religion, the latter involving two ancient goddesses and the struggle for elemental magic, aka magic that controls the four elements. That magic is mostly dead, but there is a secret enclave of supernatural types called Watchers, and they are on the lookout for a girl who can awaken the magic again. That girl may or may not be Princess Lucia of Limeros, whose brother Magnus is totally in love with her. (GROSS.) The other princess in the story, Cleo of Auranos, is trying to get out of her engagement to Lord Douchey McDouchebag, aka Aron. After Aron dickishly kills a random guy in Paelsia, that guy's brother Jonas decides to seek revenge. And... I'm just going to stop right there, because if you want to find out more, you can read the book instead of just letting me explain the entire thing to you. Damn, stop being so lazy!

BFF Charm: Nay

I guess I was supposed to be rooting for Lucia, Cleo and (maybe?) Jonas, but I never really cared about any of them. Lucia is sweet, but in spite of some twists, her personality is yawn-worthy. She reminds me of Georgiana Darcy, whose most redeeming quality is having Mr. Darcy as a brother. And Magnus is no Mr. Darcy, so... yeah. Cleo is sheltered and headstrong, which is another way of saying that she is an idiot, and even when she was trying to do the right thing, I still wanted to smack her. Jonas is the only one who actually inspires sympathy, but he lacked the depth necessary for me to make any sort of emotional connection. And before the main characters get defensive, I should point out that I didn't like *anyone* in this book, so, you know, it's nothing personal.

Swoonworthy Scale: -5

In case your brain decided to cleanse itself since reading "The Deal," Magnus is totally in love with his sister, Lucia. And even though we, the readers, know from the beginning that Lucia is not actually related to Magnus, HE DOESN'T KNOW THAT. And sure, he knows it's wrong, and he fights against it, BUT STILL. HE'S IN LOVE. WITH HIS SISTER. Incest is kind of a swoon-killer, AMIRIGHT? The only reason this score isn't lower is because Cleo's bodyguard, Theon, is pretty hot. There's some hints of insta-love that I'm not happy about, but I was so desperate to cling to something NON-INCESTY that I found Theon to be quite the sexy savior. Unfortunately, he was not foxy enough to overcome THE INCEST.

Talky Talk: No Frills Fantasy

As a fantasy fan, I always dig world-building and sprawling family trees and made-up shizz. I was intrigued by the universe Rhodes created, but her writing never really hooked me. The characters felt flat, and the pacing would gain momentum only to be stalled out by awkward exposition. (Although I am thankful that the author avoided the Tolkien trap of description overload.) The plot structure was firmly in place, but all of the emotional tension was missing. I got the sense (although this is purely conjecture) that Rhodes wrote this novel like I wrote papers in college. I would spend foooorever crafting the outline, adding lots of details and research, but when it came time to actually write the paper, I was so invested in the outline that the paper would be an afterthought, simply a way to make sure that my outline got the elaboration it deserved. Perhaps, like College Posh, Rhodes was so focused on getting her points across that she never took the time to let them breathe once they hit the page.

Bonus Factor: Wine

Even though Paelsia is the ghetto of the three kingdoms, I still want to move there because their main export is wine. And not just any wine, but MAGIC wine. The soil is still infused with earth magic, producing wine that knocks your socks off and gives everything a "golden" glow. It's like that concentrated laundry detergent where you only need one squirt to wash your clothes, except you only need one sip to get totes tipsy. Dang, Paelsia, when are you going to start exporting this shizz?

Anti-Bonus Factor: FITA

Ok, obviously this book is not NEARLY as creepy as Flowers in the Attic (what book could be?!), but the Magnus thing just made me squick. Especially when we had to see things through his perspective and he kept going ON AND ON about how beautiful HIS SISTER was and BLARG. And, in keeping with the VC Andrews theme, there was also a weird sub-plot involving Cleo's older (by only a few years, so... 19?) sister falling in love with a guard HER DAD'S AGE. And it was like, no big deal. RIIIIIIGHT.

Casting Call:

Britt Robertson as Cleo

Lily Collins as Lucia

Jordan Rodrigues as Jonas

Yeah, picturing Jordan made the book a LOT more enticing.

Relationship Status: Drunk Conversation at the Bar

DUDE! I had the CRAZIEST conversation with this book the other night! I mean, it was telling me all of these random stories and talking about magic and people turning into HAWKS and shizz and man, what a trip. Our convo wasn't, like, serious or anything, and I kept getting distracted by other books, but this novel definitely had A LOT to tell me. After about ten minutes, I kinda wanted to walk away, but it just kept the stories coming, and since I had a drink to finish, I stuck around. After about a week, I won't really be able to recall most of the details, but that's cool, because this book wasn't really trying to make a connection, just conversation. (Although maybe if it had bought me a glass of wine instead of just raving about it, it might have left a bigger impression on me.)

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Razorbill.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Falling Kingdoms is available on December 11.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).