Published: July 1, 2021
Series: Mousai #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 424 (Paperback)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
From the award-winning author of the Dreamland series comes a new dark romantic fantasy about a young woman finding hope in her powers of destruction.
The Thief Kingdom is a place hidden within the world of Aadlior. Many whisper of its existence, but few have found this place, where magic and pleasure abound. There, the mysterious Thief King reigns supreme with the help of the Mousai, a trio of revered and feared sorceresses.
Larkyra Bassette may be the youngest of the Mousai, but when she sings her voice has the power to slay monsters. When it’s discovered the Duke of Lachlan is siphoning a poisonous drug from the Thief Kingdom and using it to abuse his tenants, Larkyra is offered her first solo mission to stop the duke. Eager to prove herself, Larkyra accepts by posing as the duke’s potential bride. But her plans grow complicated when she finds herself drawn to Lord Darius Mekenna, Lachlan’s rightful heir. Soon she suspects Darius has his own motivations for ridding Lachlan of the corrupt duke. Larkyra and Darius must learn to trust each other if there is to be any hope of saving the people of Lachlan—and themselves.
Welcome to the world of Aadilor, where lords and ladies can be murderers and thieves, and the most alluring notes are often the deadliest. Dare to listen?
I have been on a serious binge of books bought purely for their lovely covers and fantasy-romance aspects and this is the book that began it all. Song of the Forever Rains is the first in what I expect will be a trilogy, since this book and it’s sequel each have a different sister as the main character. This is Larkyra, the youngest sister’s story and what fun it was!
Larkyra Bassette is the youngest daughter of the Thief King, the mysterious man who runs the magical criminal underworld in Aadilor. She and her two sisters also make up the powerful magical trio known as the Mousai – they are renowned for their talents of singing, dancing, instrument playing, and destroying the minds of men. They lead an interesting double life, since the family is also quite well respected and powerful outside of their underworld since their dual lives are kept secret.
Larkyra, having just come of age is to be sent on her first solo mission as one of the Mousai and, not so coincidentally, has just been engaged to a Duke. The same Duke that is stealing a poisonous magical drug from the Thief Kingdom. On this mission in a far country she also gets to spend a fair amount of time with the handsome Lord Darius MeKenna (the Duke’s stepson).
The worldbuilding is quite interesting here – I love the different magics, I love the idea of this magical underworld, and the locales are fairly well described. There’s even sort of an access point to the realm of the dead and the keepers Achak, siblings who share a body, were brilliantly done. Tons of cool stuff going on here and it seems that the world will be fleshed out even further in the sequel.
I even quite liked the characters! Larkyra is clever and lovely, but clearly still young despite having grown up amidst such depravity and she makes some silly decisions. Her sisters seem interesting as side characters and Achak was really quite fascinating. Duke Lachlan, Larkyra’s betrothed, is an absolute monster of a man – a serial abuser who’s drug problem has only enhanced an already awful trait. And Darius Mekenna is of course handsome, though somewhat remote since he’s been brutally beaten by his stepfather for years. He’s clearly a good guy and is trying to save his kingdom and the people therein in any way he can.
Overall it was a good story with good characters, but dang, the dialogue was SO awkward sometimes! The phrasing was so stiff and strange sometimes and I really think that listening to the audiobook exacerbated what I may have glossed over in the print edition. Despite being touted as a fantasy romance, it’s not all that romance heavy. Yes, there are a couple steamy scenes toward the end, but it’s mostly tension between the characters and them beginning to trust one another in a weird situation. There were occasions when I really wanted to get one with something more interesting, so I think the pacing could use a bit of work – perhaps it will improve in the next book. I’m definitely going to pick up the sequel, because hey, I just can’t resist a pretty cover and the promise of more powerful gals finding their soulmates sounds fun!