Em was a fierce and determined character that I really liked. She could be ruthless when needed but she cared about the people from Ruina, her people, and she was very protective of her friends and her sister. I could understand her guilt over her sister’s kidnapping even though it wasn’t her fault and her need to save her. I enjoyed her growth from being hard and closed off to learning to open up to new people. She was a character I wanted to see succeed. She worked so hard to compensate for not having any powers and it was something she had to come to accept about herself.
The character interactions were great and a lot of fun to read. The main interactions were between Em and Cas and I really enjoyed the way they went from hate when they knew nothing about each other to slowly getting to know each other, to respecting each other. I also liked the dynamic between Cas and his bodyguard, Gallo. They were more like brothers and best friends instead of prince and guard. The dynamic between Em and her friend and bodyguard Eren was equally great and both provided some lighter moments in between the action and the tension. The interactions between Em and Cas’ parents were so tension-filled that it was nerve-wracking to read.
I loved the world-building of Ruina, Lera, the Ruined power structure, the hunters who captured or killed the Ruined. It started off with action right away and with the deception stakes so high, there was never really a moment I felt like I could take a breath. There was a history of battles and distrust between the kingdoms that added to the story now and both the world-building and character growth were spread out through the book so it didn’t feel overwhelming or like an information dump. There was a lot of action, sword-fighting, close calls, twists. It was just a great reading experience. I can’t wait for the sequel.