Source: Provided by author for review
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Reychel is a slave girl surrounded by magic, lies and manipulation. Her best friend disappears in the middle of the night leaving Reychel to face her fifteenth birthday, the day her master burns his brand into the back of her bald head, alone. She's sheltered from the outside world and doesn't have any hope for escape, but when people desperate for freedom ask for her help can Reychel learn to believe in herself?
Anathema was so so so much better than I could have ever anticipated! I thought the synopsis sounded intriguing enough, but Megg Jensen just blew me away with this book. I've never read anything else of hers, but I know I'll be reading much more soon.
First, I thought the ideas behind Reychel's world were very intriguing. Reychel is a slave, but has always been sheltered and treated differently from everyone else by her master, though no one knows why. She cannot go outside or even look out windows but when in the presence of her master. This gives Reychel an interesting world-view, rather unlike most anything I've read. She is also a strong lead character, who does what she thinks needs to be done, rather than cowing in front of those more powerful than her.
One thing I especially enjoyed was how I found myself questioning every single one of the character's motives. Megg found a way to write the book in such a way that allowed for that, and no single character was transparent. We only could get an idea of their loyalties after taking in their actions for a while, even the most secondary characters.
The story was also filled with a lot of good twists and turns, even though the book is barely over 200 pages. None of them felt forced, but they were all unexpected and intriguing, propelling the story along very well.
My only complaint was that some of the dialogue felt stilted at times, and this is the only reason I couldn't give the book five stars. The flow of the conversations didn't feel natural, like a conversation I would have. I've found this to be a problem in a lot of books. People say things only to propel the story, rather than because it's something they'd actually say. It's not actually a big, glaring problem in Anathema, but a noticeable one for someone reading critically.
All in all, I very much enjoyed Anathema, and will be reading Oubliette as soon as I can. It is very much worth the read and your time. :) It ended so suddenly that I almost went and just bought the second one immediately!
Risk a paper cut? Anathema is an exciting tale of self revelation and first love that will engage your heart and mind.