ARC provided by HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.
“It was never really a choice, was it? Wanting her. Killing her.”
Friends, if you are looking for a book all about revenge, filled with mystery and betrayals, while also showcasing the best enemies to lovers f/f romance I’ve read in a long while, please immediately pick up Crier’s War. I’m telling you right now, this is going to make so many best of 2019 lists come the end of the year, and I don’t even have words for the amount of pure joy I felt while reading this book.
Crier’s War is set in an alternative future where alchemists have crafted mechanical people, called Automaes, who now rule over the humans. The humans originally created them so a powerful queen, who could not bear children, could have an heir, but soon Automaes were forged for other human pleasures. But then they rose up and conquered the humans who originally made them. Now the world is a very unsafe place to live for humans who are still alive after the war, and they are allowed very few liberties.
➽ Crier – Lesbian! A girl artificially crafted to become the daughter her father needs to carry on his powerful legacy, while being betrothed to a man who promises to help her hone that power for both of them.
➽ Ayla – Bi! A human girl who lost her family and everything else after the Automaes raised up and overthrew the humans.
And after Ayla saves Crier’s life, Crier offers her an opportunity to become a servant for her, which is a very high honor for humans. So, Ayla becomes Crier’s handmaiden, while also seeing this as an opportunity to go undercover and maybe seek the vengeance she has been after for so long. That is, until both girls start realizing that maybe they are on the same side, and maybe they could be something more than enemies if they only were able to learn to trust.
“A thought came to her: a story of its own, one that only just began writing itself in her mind: a story of two women, one human, one Made.”
The romance in this book? It honestly gave me at least twenty years on my lifespan! This is the slowest burn, angst filled, most beautiful enemies to lovers between two women of color! It is so expertly crafted and delivered, and it was a tier above the rest. And the alternating points of view, opposing sides, filled with secrets and betrayals; it was just everything, friends. I bet this will be my favorite ship of 2019. True OTP status.
But this story really begs the question of what it means to be human. Is the capability for empathy, love, trust? What does it mean to have be alive? Simply because we are born or because blood flows through our veins? Is it because we have free will and are able to change our outlook on things and people? Or is it because we choose to take on the title human and make it into whatever we believe it to be?
“Like she was more than a human girl. Like she was a summer storm made of flesh.”
Yet, this story also constantly puts the theme of oppression and privilege at the center of it all. How people appropriate and steal from cultures and pretend that it’s okay, or worse, their own. How dangerous it is for the privileged to not acknowledge their privilege(s). And how oppressors will stop at nothing to maintain the power they have gained that privilege from.
This was such a quick read, and I completely inhaled all 400+ pages and couldn’t put it down. I started it right before a readathon, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week, and when the readathon was over I read it in one sitting. My queer heart couldn’t stop smiling, crying, swooning, and evoking every other emotion.
Overall, this was just a masterpiece and one of the best debuts I’ve read in a long while. If you like books filled with political intrigue, twists and turns, a beautiful and horrific backdrop, lush writing, captivating characters, and girls loving girls, I really recommend this one with my whole heart and soul. Also, just in case you aren’t completely sold yet, so many of my friends have compared this to Jude and Cardan from The Cruel Prince, but for the gays, and that is so 100% accurate.
“For the queer readers. You deserve every adventure.”
(Two extra things I need to add: 1.) this is ownvoices for the queer rep + 2.) the author is ARMY = no choice but for me to stan forever. Okay, goodbye. I’m off to pray to all the higher powers for book two immediately. Also, jokes on all of you, because this is ghost Melanie reviewing this, because I died at the tide pool scene.)
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content and Trigger Warnings: war themes, abandonment, loss of loved ones, grief depictions, blood depiction, animal death/gore, and general violence.
Buddy read with Lea! ❤
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays and short fiction. She was born in New Orleans and raised on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood playing in the Eno River, building faerie houses from moss and bark, and running barefoot through the woods. These days, Nina lives in Los Angeles with her writing partner and their tiny, ill-behaved dog. She tends to write stories about hard-won love and young people toppling the monarchy/patriarchy/whatever-archy. On a related note, she’s queer. On a less related note, she has strong feelings about hushpuppies and loves a good jambalaya. CRIER’S WAR is her first novel.
You can find Nina at any given coffee shop in the greater Los Angeles area, or at www.ninavarela.com
Thank you so much to Karina @ Afire Pages
Sept. 23 – Afire Pages | 21 Questions with Nina Varela