by Alexandra Christo
Publication: October 11, 2022
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Inspired by Rapunzel, Christo’s damsel in the tower is a yellow-eyed, green hair witch heir who has been locked away by an immortal king. Selestra is only allowed in public during the Festival of Predictions when candidates arrive at the castle for a chance to earn a wish and even steal the king’s immortality by escaping the death foretold by the king’s witch, Selestra’s mother. Selestra discovers her fate is linked to Nox, a candidate and one of the king’s soldiers, when she is ordered to predict his death. Princess of Souls was an unexpected treat, one that was both amazing and disappointing.
I was immediately hooked by the first lines, “I can tell someone when they’re going to die. All I need is a lock of hair and their soul.” With its emphasis on death, I was fully prepared for a grim take on the fairytale and did not suspect the lighter fare it became after Selestra and Nox meet. Selestra adheres to strict protocols in the presence of her mother and the king and this is how readers meet her at the beginning–solemn and obedient, trying to take up the least amount of space as possible. She yearns for company and freedom. Nox doesn’t seem to take things very seriously with his seemingly easygoing personality. Underneath the facade is a deadly soldier seeking revenge. Selestra and Nox clash at nearly every opportunity and the witty banter is especially entertaining. She calls him out for everything (big or small, necessary or not), and he teases her relentlessly. Their chemistry blooms quickly even as they tell themselves nothing going on.
Because Nox and Selestra are the central characters, they are the most developed. There are additional side characters who help fill out the story, but not nearly enough pages to develop them into rounded characters. For instance, the immortal king serves as the main villain and is more fleshed out. He has a backstory but never moves beyond being a token villain. His existence is the real threat, motivating Nox and Selestra to keep moving, but he does not do very much beyond this.
There’s so much contained in the second half, and I wanted to spend more time with the characters and the many events that unfold. This would have been a wonderful opportunity for further world-building and to develop the side characters that appear. Because this is standalone, everything zipped by, and I didn’t have a chance to immerse myself in some of the interesting parts of the story. By the time I knew it, I was already nearing the end and not entirely satisfied with how the book teased spectacular things but did not entirely follow through.
Princess of Souls took me on a grand adventure that I wish lasted longer than a single volume. I was not prepared to say goodbye to Selestra and Nox when the book ended. I know we get the book authors write, but I could not help but want so much more. Individuals looking for adventure and a quick read will enjoy the novel.
Leave a Reply