Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: Wardbreaker by J. A. Cipriano

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the author!

J. A. Cipriano's Ward Breaker was a book with great potential.

There were a lot of intriguing things about the world in which it was set. I liked most of the characters. It was occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. And somewhere past the 70% point, I started forgetting to take reviewer's notes because I was reading quickly to find out what happened.

Unfortunately, it could not quite live up to that potential because it really, really needed an editor.

Misspellings ("feint" instead of "faint," for example) and grammar errors were quite common. Some of the most intriguing plot points or characters were dropped, never to be seen again, and the world, while interesting, was not fleshed out nearly as well as it might have been.

Lillim Callina, the main character, is not from Earth. She's a member of a magical race called the Dioscuri. By the end of the book, I still didn't have much of a feel for exactly who the Dioscuri are as a people, or where Lillim grew up. An alternate world? Somewhere on Earth that just held itself separate from everyone else? I know there are more books in the series, but I'd still like to have at least a slightly better feel for where this girl comes from, since her not being from Earth was made into such a plot point. (Inconsistently: she apparently knew what string cheese was, but not what the term "nurse" meant. She also seemed to have pretty good snark and pop culture knowledge for someone who was clueless about Earth, which I excused because it was funny.)

I liked Lillim, and most of the other major characters. Lillim is a former great warrior reincarnated into a teenage girl, which provided great opportunities for conflict--everyone near-idolized the person she was before, and Lillim doesn't feel she can live up to it--but, like several interesting plot threads, that was dropped pretty quickly.

Lillim's male lead, Jean Luc, was a mystery wrapped in an enigma: I liked him, and how his relationship with Lillim unfolded, well enough. I also liked Danae, the succubus who didn't much care for sex, and I'd hope to see both of them return in later books.

The main antagonist was creepy and vicious and difficult to beat: once s/he showed up I was always invested--though it was sometimes hard to follow exactly what was at stake on a global scale--because the risk to the major characters felt so immediate.

Bottom line: Lots to love, but I would hope to see an editor's touch to improve spelling and grammar and tighten up plot and characterization in later books.


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