Kunal has mostly been raised by his uncle in his way of life, valuing control above all else, and functioning as a soldier. This is the only way of life he can really remember, and Kunal is the loyal, ideal soldier as a result. After he meets an interesting girl (Esha) on the same night that the Viper kills his uncle, Kunal is given a task to hunt the Viper and bring him back dead or alive. If he is the first to do so, he will receive his uncle’s title and thus the political power. So begins a journey that will alter Kunal forever and open his eyes to the truth of things.
What I loved: The descriptions of places and people are absolutely lush. The interwoven Indian history and Hindu mythology is beautiful, and the portrait painted throughout the book is absolutely fantastic. The world-building is top-notch in this book. The characters were also easy for me to like, both Esha and Kunal growing close to my heart. There is a lot of cat and mouse in the book with witty banter and entertaining scenarios. The romance creeps up on them, and it made it very believable. The overarching story was really well-developed, and I loved learning more about these characters and their lives.
What left me wanting more: The pacing was very slow at first, and I would have liked things to move faster. Notably, I did find that it sped up in the last half of the book. This may, in part, be because of the world and character building, which was very well done. Regardless, once I got through the first half of the book, I was completely hooked on the story and characters.
Final verdict: This YA fantasy is great for fans of THE REMNANT CHRONICLES and EMBER IN THE ASHES. With strong world-building and intriguing characters, this is a great start to a new series, and I will definitely seek out the next books. While the first half was slow, the pace picked up, and I was completely engrossed in this fascinating new world by the end of the book. It does have a bit of a cliff-hanger, so be prepared to eagerly await the sequel!