I am so excited for Furyborn! I was ever since I read the plot on Goodreads. Two queens in prophecy, but a 1000 years apart? I’m calling that a unique idea in YA fantasy. The book also looks pretty amazing, and after reading it I am still just as enthusiastic about Claire Legrand’s Furyborn. I wonder what’s going to happen in the next books, and even though we got some answers now, there is still a lot that needs to happen.
First, let’s talk about the fact that these queens live a thousand years apart, even though they’re part of the same prophecy. That in itself tells us they are connected, no matter how many years have passed. But of course, there is more of a connection. Claire Legrand keeps it close to the vest, but she doesn’t force herself into all kinds of trouble to keep it secret. It creates a nice flow: if you figure it out beforehand due to the little clues the author leaves behind, good for you and your observational skills (or experience reading epic fantasy). If you don’t, there’s a nice surprise coming your way. The plot doesn’t hinge on the reader not knowing, and that’s how I prefer it. It prevents authors from making bad decisions to keep the secret going despite it not working (I’m looking at you, Seeker).
The story switches perspective and storyline with each chapter, going back and forth between Rielle and Eliana. They are nicely mirrored. One is a girl wanting to do right but buckling under her own ambition, the other is a girl who believes herself a monster but finds she still cares too much. It is clear from the start who is the Blood Queen and who is the Sun Queen (or is it?) and we as readers get two different things from the storylines. With Rielle, we know where she ends up thanks to the prologue and established legend, but we don’t know how she will get there. It’s an interesting journey. With Eliana, you have no idea what the path brings, just that she will have to finish what Rielle started. But how and where?
In the execution of the plot I do think some things could have been done better, especially where the characters motives are concerned. Rielle seems to be the only one Claire Legrand has a clear picture of. But Rielle has to go through trials for most of her storyline, and they are of a very predictable sort. I wish Claire Legrand had thought of something more original, but I will say that I’m still most invested in this storyline with Rielle. The good girl gone bad (or has she?) is an interesting one, and I like to watch Rielle walk her path blindly while I know where she is going.
Eliana’s storyline lacks some good direction. Yes, she is looking for her mother and teams up with a high ranking rebel to get her back. But too much time is spent pushing Eliana back and forth: is she helping the rebels or betraying them? She betrays them at an extremely inopportune moment which could cost her her mother’s life, considering the rebels were taking Eliana to her (even if it was in their own time). It’s motivated by her wanting to beg for her old life back, while she knows the chance is slim, doesn’t trust her country’s leaders and knows they will not help her get her mother back. She also repeatedly stated she does not want to go back to her old life, so why? Her motives are muddy. I think Claire Legrand wants Eliana to be conflicted between her better self and her baser self, but it reads like a mess.
Her relationships with individual rebels and her brother are handled in the same manner. There is conflict one moment, and confiding in them the next. It comes across as insincere, and Navi is just as flaky in how she reacts. Weapons drawn one moment, confessing deep secrets the next. I felt it made the interpersonal relationships less genuine and more a way to stall the plot long enough for Rielle’s storyline to catch up (unnecessarily, because of all the trial-ing we go through that could have been cut). I would also like to see Simon better defined. Especially Simon, honestly. His obsession with Eliana could be used better to excude creepiness and a reluctance for Eliana to trust him, rather than her letting this clear mad man get close because she thinks he’s hot.
Rielle’s secondary characters seemed to have the opposite problem, creating too few obstacles for her. I am talking about Ludevine (I’ve come to adore that weird name, I must admit it). I was getting increasingly annoyed by the fact she doesn’t care at all her friend seems to stab her in the back at every turn – with Auric, then Ludivine’s father. Even though Rielle doesn’t mean to, it could easily have been the beginning of people turning against Rielle, misinterpreting her intentions and separating her from her one ally in court. But Ludivine cares for nothing but her friend’s happiness at the cost of her own and that’s just… weird. With the major plot twist happening at the end I got really excited again because I finally understood the reason, but it made me sad that I spent such a big part of the book being annoyed. This relationship is best read the second time, I think, but it should also be a good read the first time, if you know what I mean.
What I think gives this book it’s four stars is the promise it shows. I really enjoyed reading it despite the comments I made above, because the overall storyline of the series is so incredibly compelling. I want to know what happens, and I have a slight evil-crush on Corien. Alright, a big one. I want to know how Rielle’s story is going to go, and I really want to know how it’s going to come to a head with Eliana. I think both storylines in Furyborn were a bit drawn out: they could have been more concise with more things happening, but I also understand that this is almost like a prologue. The big events all have to happen over the next books.
I am definitely recommending this. I may have talked more about the negatives than the positives, but that’s because I can be really concise about the positive: it’s an amazing plot. The use of the angels as overlords reminds me a bit of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, in the sense that they are mighty and mythical but also very much real to the touch. We don’t know what happened in the past, nor what is going to happen in the future and Claire Legrand’s plot twists has me thinking we are going to discover a lot more interesting turns before this story is over. I can’t wait for book two.