[The following review was typed for the Inkridden Tribune using the Third Alouette by War Correspondent Amanda E. Purvis and sent in via wardrobe door. It was later transcribed for digital media by The Incoherent Fangirl podcast.]
DIVINE RIVALS WAS PERFECT STOP.
RUTHLESS VOWS WAS HIGHLY ANTICIPATED SEQUEL STOP.
RUTHLESS VOWS FLAWLESSLY CLOSES THE DIVINE RIVALS STORY STOP.
YOU MUST READ THESE BOOKS STOP.
Where DIVINE RIVALS leaves us, Iris E. Winnow and Roman C. Kitt have been separated by circumstance, details of which this correspondent may not divulge due to spoilers. As RUTHLESS VOWS begins, Iris has returned to Oath, while Roman is elsewhere, struggling with the recent loss of his memories. The war between gods Dacre and Enva continues to rage, and Roman finds himself writing for Dacre, hoping that his memories will come back as his body heals from near-death wounds. Roman is provided with a strangely familiar typewriter to use for writing Dacre's correspondence, and with the typewriter comes strange letters that appear through wardrobe doors. Roman is, of course, fascinated, and cultivates a friendship with his new pen pal. Unfortunately, he and the mysterious E. seem to be on opposite sides of the war. What are these rivals to do?
I read DIVINE RIVALS during a break in reporting on the war and was instantly pulled into the world of Cambria, and into Iris and Roman's worlds. Author Rebecca Ross is a masterful storyteller, weaving magic into every word until you forget that your own world exists. To say that I was highly anticipating its sequel, RUTHLESS VOWS, would be the understatement of the era...I was, as Roman so perfectly puts it, "greedy for [it]. I [was] hungry for [it]." As luck and a bit of fate would have it, a correspondent at a fellow newspaper (St. Martin's Press and Wednesday Books) was able to provide me with an advanced copy of RUTHLESS VOWS to report on.
Rebecca Ross did not disappoint in the finale of this story. With every chapter I was more on edge, and any moment I spent away from this book nearly physically hurt. I ached when I was away from it, because I had to know what came next. It's difficult to put into words how this book made me feel; Rebecca's writing style is so ethereal and soothing, but her stories are so high stakes that you're constantly caught between the feelings of being gently lulled into peaceful slumber and worried that the stress of beloved characters' fates may make your heart literally beat out of your chest. It truly is magic, the way she can both soothe and torment you in equal measure throughout an entire book.
We also add a new character to our crew: Tobias Bexley, who is quite frankly too good for this earth. I enjoyed meeting and learning more about Tobias while, of course, catching up with the rest of the DIVINE RIVALS family.
RUTHLESS VOWS leans more into the political side of war than DIVINE RIVALS did, which I thoroughly enjoyed as that is a human aspect of war that is so often overlooked; when we think of "war," so many of us think of boots on the ground, trenches, and gunfire. Of course, that is present in our story as well, but we get more of a view into the War Room, and experience the political intrigue, betrayal, and blind loyalty that are ever present in wartime. There's also an even stronger sense of community among the people that was both moving and heartbreaking to read--it makes you stop and wonder how you and your neighbors would react if you were placed in similar situations. Are your neighbors the people that you think they are? Are you the person that you think you are?
My free writing time is coming to a close and I must return to reporting on Dacre and Enva, but before I go: this duology was absolutely perfect in every way, and I recommend it for all readers of the Inkridden Tribune. (If you have good enough taste to be reading the Inkridden Tribune, you will love DIVINE RIVALS and RUTHLESS VOWS!)
--Amanda E. Purvis
YOU MAY PURCHASE COPIES OF DIVINE RIVALS HERE OR HERE, AND YOU MAY PURCHASE COPIES OF RUTHLESS VOWS HERE AND HERE. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CORRESPONDENT RESPONSIBLE FOR WRITING THIS MISSIVE RECEIVED A COPY OF RUTHLESS VOWS FOR FREE AND HAS VOLUNTARILY WRITTEN THIS HONEST REVIEW. ANY PURCHASES MADE VIA THE BOOKSHOP.ORG LINKS ABOVE WILL PROVIDE THE CORRESPONDENT WITH A SMALL COMMISSION, AND YOU WILL SUPPORT LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOK RETAILERS. ANY PURCHASES MADE VIA THE AMAZON.COM LINKS ABOVE WILL PROVIDE THE CORRESPONDENT WITH A SMALL COMMISSION WHICH SHE WILL USE TO PURCHASE SCONES AND TEA WITH TOO MUCH MILK AND HONEY.