Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review: Torn by Rowena Miller


Torn
Author:  Rowenna Miller
Series:  The Unraveled Kingdom 1
Publisher:  Orbit, March 20, 2018
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
List Price:  US$15.99 (print);  US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:   9780316478625 (print); 9780316478618 (eBook)

TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

In a time of revolution, everyone must take a side.

Sophie, a dressmaker and charm caster, has lifted her family out of poverty with a hard-won reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly embroidered spells. A commission from the royal family could secure her future — and thrust her into a dangerous new world.

Revolution is brewing. As Sophie’s brother, Kristos, rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement, it is only a matter of time before their fortunes collide.

When the unrest erupts into violence, she and Kristos are drawn into a deadly magical plot. Sophie is torn — between her family and her future.



Doreen’s Thoughts

Rowenna Miller does an excellent job portraying the balancing act that her protagonist, Sophie, performs between the haves and the have-nots. Seemingly based on the French Revolution, Torn focuses on a young dressmaker who also can cast spells into the clothing that she sews. As a shopkeeper, Sophie deals with the upper class and the aristocracy and employs two other shopgirls. However, her brother, Kristos, is one of the leaders of the growing disenfranchised who wish to overthrow a government that fosters such great inequities as currently exist between the rich and the poor.

Viewed as an artist for her charm skills, Sophie is invited by a member of the aristocracy to join an intellectual and artistic salon. Sophie is intrigued by the intelligent discourse and the artistic works they celebrate. She meets Theodor, who happens to be in line as an heir to the throne. She also learns more about the aristocratic world and why/how they happen to think, making her more convinced than ever to remain neutral.

To force Sophie to utilize her spell-casting skills on behalf of the revolution, the group kidnaps and threatens her brother’s life. She is forced to support a cause that she understands but does not embrace, twisting her gift to cast curses rather than positive spells. As revolutionary talk sparks into violence, Sophe is trapped with Theodor and her salon friends as the palace itself is attacked. She is forced once again to choose between continuing to help the revolutionaries or confessing to her new love and endangering her brother’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially the touch of magic added by the spell-casting through sewing. Miller does a terrific job of making each side in the conflict equally compelling and sympathetic, leading the reader to understand Sophie’s reluctance to take a position. The characters were well written, and the twist at the end is perfectly believable. Torn is a strong beginning to The Unraveled Kingdom Trilogy.

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