Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment, #1)

Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment, #1)
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Release Date
April 04, 2023
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When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever.

After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish―into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.

Shadow and Bone meets Lore in Rebecca Ross's Divine Rivals, an epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel filled with hope and heartbreak, and the unparalleled power of love.

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heartfelt and emotional YA fantasy
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DIVINE RIVALS is a lush and consuming YA fantasy/epistolary. The story is told from the perspectives of Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt, who are competing for the job of columnist at the most prestigious newspaper in Oath. Their country is engaged in a divine war between gods, who have created a great deal of chaos, particularly Dacre, whose awakening led to mass destruction. Enva is opposing, and Enva has called Iris's brother to the forefront of the action, leaving Iris alone with her alcoholic mother. Though her brother had promised to write, Iris has not heard from him, and thus, she has no way to get in touch with him. Instead, she writes him letters that she cannot send and places them in the wardrobe they share, where they disappear.

Somehow, the letters are being delivered to Roman Kitt, unbeknownst to Iris, and she dislikes him with a great passion. He treasures the letters and eventually responds, though without naming himself. As they communicate through the letters, their lives are irrevocably changed by their circumstances and decisions that lead to their involvement in the battles to come.

What I loved: This may be my favorite of Ross's books yet. Ross really knows how to craft an incredible and intricate fantasy world, introducing it to the reader organically through characters with which the reader instantly falls in love. This is my favorite thus far, and it's an absolutely consuming and page-turning read.

The world-building is quite masterful, with a whole mythology presented for these living gods. While people know that they exist and the havoc they are wreaking, specific knowledge is limited, and Iris gathers it where she can, sharing it with the reader in the process. This has all led to the terrible fighting with horrific magical and technological tools that make having a loved one involved anything but simple. The decisions Iris makes with regards to it all make sense, as the reader learns and understands her character and the value she places on family and her writing.

Iris and Roman are both really fantastic characters. While, at the beginning, they see each other in much more flat and two-dimensional terms, through their letters, they both begin to grow into someone more real and multi-faceted. Each has seen a lot of trauma and held the heavy weight of expectations in their own disparate ways, and while they seem as though they could be opposites in every way (socioeconomic, advantages/privilege, etc.), their lives have shaped them into matches for the other, with connections that go much deeper than the surface. Their love story was unbelievably beautiful and affectingly felt by the reader, and it would be impossible not to cheer for them to be together. While it takes a while for them to admit to themselves, they are a perfect match.

The story also handles some really poignant and thought-provoking themes around politics, socioeconomic disparities, grief and loss, guilt particularly that related to loss, mental illness, family, the weight of our decisions, the importance of standing up for what you believe in, power, and falling in love. This world is complex, as are its politics, and the reader sees the way that the ongoing war touches people differently, as some are able to ignore what others cannot. Additionally, the way that power related to socioeconomic class, magic, and other disparities is wielded can have devastating consequences with the dangerous games that people play. Grief, loss, and guilt are another really powerful and heart-wrenching theme that will speak to readers while also tearing their hearts out.

This was a highly emotional read, and it kept me gripped from start to finish. As a heads up, I would definitely have some tissues handy while reading, and be forewarned of a bit of a cliffhanger ending that will make readers want to scream- it's going to be a long wait to the next book.

Final verdict: DIVINE RIVALS is an enthralling and captivating YA fantasy that will tear readers' hearts out and leave them begging for more. Highly recommend picking up this consuming read with unforgettable characters, an undeniably heartfelt love story, and masterful world-building.
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