Hey, writers and readers!
It’s not a good month without an indie novel or two. Today I’ll be reviewing Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer, or the first novel in the Oremere Chronicles series. Check out the review below and make sure to give your two cents in the comments section if you’ve already read the book, too!
Rating: 5 stars
Bleak has the ability to read minds—and she travels far and wide to get rid of the voices in her head. The only comfort life brings is her friend, Bren, and alcohol.
The last thing she expects is for the king to take interest in a gutter rat like her. The captain of his army comes one day and takes her captive without much warning or explanation. Soon enough, the Valia women step in to save Bleak—but not without a price.
Bleak must figure out why both sides want her and her abilities. She knows the king is rounding up all people with various magic abiltiies, but she’s not sure if it’s to her benefit or not to be caught up in his schemes. The Valian wouldn’t mind if she uses her powers to seek revenge or protect their way of life.
When she starts hearing names that she hasn’t heard in a while, she knows that there is more that they know about her, her parents, and her potential.
What I Enjoyed:
The world building in this novel is pretty fantastic. To the surprise of no one, I enjoyed learning more about the Valerian women—think of a mix between Amazon women and elves. They’re beautiful, powerful, and all female. The main difference is that their hierarchy sends the unfit and the weak to take on lower class positions. The people are happy, but Bleak still sees the class system as harsh, unfeeling, and unfair. I thought their addition—especially Henri—was fabulous. I wanted to learn more about them and see them in action.
I was also impressed with the shifting POV. At first you don’t know why you’re getting roughly five different POVs, or how they connect. For example, you follow Dash, the stable boy who has an endearing friendship with the blind princess. The reader assumes he has to be important because his POV is worth following, but Sheuerer unfolds the connections and importance throughout the novel.
The character arcs are also pretty fantastic. Even with the Valerian women, you won’t see any Mary Sues here. At first, I was not a fan of Bleak. She doesn’t start out likeable, and she doesn’t try to be likeable. But there were a lot of scenes and twists that gave you reason to root for her. I know that might bother some readers, but she grew on me. The king was also an intriguing antagonist. I feel like most king characters are pretty stale, but this one was fairly different and complicated.
My Final Thoughts
I mainly gave this novel 5 stars because it exceeded my expectations. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of Bleak and the way she treats everyone around her. It seemed like none the characters would get along, and it made it difficult to like anyone. But just when things were getting grim, the story unfolded their character arcs to the point that it mended all my concerns. Towards the end, you empathize with all the POVs.
To put it short, the pacing and direction of the book is probably the greatest strength. It didn’t feel too slow or too rushed. Also, even though this is your typical storyline of a poor child realizing their true potential, there were still some turns and twists that kept me interested.
I hope I shared enough to pique your curiosity without giving too much away! If you’d like to learn more about Helen Scheuerer and her work, you can catch up with her via social media:
Have you read this novel? How do you feel about super hero novels? Share with me in the comments! You can also see all of my other book reviews by checking our the Book Reviews tab.