The First Girl Child
By: Amy Harmon
Publication: August 20th 2019 by 47North
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--From the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.
Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.
Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.
Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.
What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.
I already know I'm going to have a hard time reviewing The First Girl Child. Basically here's my thought process throughout the book:
Prologue: "Ugh I hate children prologues." And "Are these the main characters?" To answer that question...no the prologue isn't from the main two characters.
Up to like 50%: "Why are we staying in their childhood so long? I want some juicy romance which is going to be weird because these two are basically like brother and sister."
50-70%: "Things are picking up speed. I've highlighted some good quotes and sections."
70-90%: "Okay so I clearly like this book. Yet I really have missed the deep romance being built."
90-100%: "Well that wrapped up well. I wouldn't mind reading more set in the same world."
Here's the thing, I love romance. It's my favorite part of any story, and it just so happens that the book I finished before The First Girl Child also ended up not having a romance. So I was disappointed back to back. Now let me be clear... There IS a romance (two in fact) in The First Girl Child but neither was the exact focus of the story. And what did happen was a lot of time spent building back story into the two main characters. A separation. And then a sudden jump to a relationship. Much of what could have been explored was left out.
The world-building was exquisite. I could picture the culture, the island, the temple, the characters, and their gods. There was enough of a history to give things a well-rounded feel without it seeming like a history book. I truly hope Amy Harmon returns to this setting in the future.
I loved the greater story here. At times I felt like it was just another "oh poor pitiful women being abused by the all-powerful men in their lives." But that really wasn't what it was about. In an attempt to curse men and prevent women from suffering at the hands of them, all Desdemona did was create more suffering for everyone, specifically, the women continued to suffer more than the men.
-"The gods reward our faith in the face of fear, Bayr. On the other side of fear is triumph."
-"W-when I'm grown, I w-won't b-be a-afraid," Bayr murmmered, hopeful. "You'll still be afraid. But you must do what is right, what you must, despite that fear."
-"...strength without wisdom is dangerous."
-The view, no matter which direction he stood, took Dagmar's breath and added it to the sky.
-...it was easy to confuse responsibility with power.
-But her hate was no match for her love.
-"Is she beautiful?" Dagmar frowned, startled. "I don't know, Master. She is ... frightening. And dirty. And sad. But ... she could be beautiful if ... someone ... loved her."
-The king withdrew the blade once more, and the dead man paid homage to his boots.
-"Life is not kind to women," Ghost sighed. "My sister said the same thing. But life is not especially kind to men either. Life is suffering, and we all suffer." ... "Even amid the suffering, the good is not hard to find"...
I enjoyed The First Girl Child. It was deep, multifaceted, and had great world-building. I didn't want to stop reading, and thankfully I was able to keep reading through most of this book without needing to put it down. I'm afraid frequently needing to take breaks for real life would have severely impacted (for the negative) my experience with this book. As it stands, I was already battling the lack of romantic build-up. This is not the book for you if you're looking for all the warm and fuzzies that come with love stories. The First Girl Child still gets 4 Stars. Have you read The First Girl Child? What did you think? Let me know.
This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.
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