3 out of 5 stars.
Johanna is a story spinner from a group of travelling performers. She has almost perfected her craft when her father dies and her family is exiled from the troupe. Things go downhill until she is caught following a deer onto the local Lord’s land and his overreaction to her presence now means he owes her an honour debt. There is nothing he can offer that she is interested in, until he thinks to offer her a job doing what she loves. Unfortunately for both of them, politics across the realm are heating up and girls that closely resemble Johanna are turning up murdered.
The first warning I give with this book is as follows: be prepared for an insane amount of POVs and rapid switching between them. I have at least one friend for whom that is an immediate turn off, so consider yourself forewarned. There are at least 6 different narrative voices and the story bounces between them quickly. The writing and character of the voices are not profoundly different from each other, so you have to use the chapter headings to easily figure out who is speaking. I found it confusing and off-putting at first. I just get used to being inside one character’s head and I am suddenly catapulted into another’s. It is a way to tell the story from multiple angles, but I think the author overdid it in this instance.
The storyline and world are very standard for a fantasy. There are magical people, there is royalty in disguise and the male and female lead don’t like each other very much for the first long bit of the book. The system of magic is not unique in that there is no real explanation for it or its use. The wielders simply use it and tire themselves out whenever they use too much. Nothing worth noting. The politics are a very black and white, good against bad scenario and we know immediately who the bad guys are. Really, the only thing that pops out at you is that the heroine is part of a family of performers, but more could have been done with that. Her skills are important but those of her family are overlooked for most of the book.
I don’t know what else to say for this book. It unraveled just like I expected it to, with no twist endings and no surprises. This would be a good read for those still getting used to fantasy, but for those well into the genre, it is a very predictable read.