Non-Spoiler review of Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) – L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone

Author: L. Penelope

Length: 384 pages

Publication Date: May 1st 2018

Synopsis: In this world, everything was brought to life by the Earthsingers, whose Songs produce magic and life. The nation has been split into two regions, Lagrimara (home to the powerful dark-skinned Earthsingers) and Elsira (a world dominated by xenophobic Elsirans who shun the Earthsingers and call them evil). Both of these regions are at war with one another, the tyrannical True King of the Lagrimari trying to conquer the Elsiran region, with many Lagrimari on the run from this evil king. Our main protagonist, Jasminda, is half Lagrimari and half Elsiran, and is also a third-generation Earthsinger. Shunned by the people in her region, she tries to live a quiet life by herself on her farm. However, one day she meets a man named Jack and her life is forever changed. 

 ★ 1/2 stars

Trigger warning: There is one scene where an attempted rape happens. 

I absolutely adored the world in this book. The Earthsingers and their history were probably the most fascinating and well-written part of Song of Blood & Stone. The short excerpts from the native folklore tales in front of each chapters also succeeded at adding additional depth to the history and world that L. Penelope has created and I found them to be incredibly witty and interesting. For example:

“Never give a gift with your eyes closed, said the Master of Sharks to the rich man. For you may part with more than you intend.” 

Jasminda was a really admirable protagonist. I loved how intelligent she was, especially at the beginning of the book when she had to outsmart a handful of men who showed up unannounced at her house (e.g. mixing herbs into their tea to prevent rape). I was also very proud of what a strong woman she was with all of the tough ordeals she had to push through, including a horrible dose of xenophobia. She never backed down from standing up for herself, and also what she believed to be right. Jack was also a very interesting character, but I felt like I wasn’t able to connect with his person as much as I was with Jasminda. 

Unfortunately, I’m taking off a star and a half off this rating for a number of reasons. The first one being that some of the plot was overly predictable and cliche. For example, those “tests” that Jasminda had to go through as well as the identity of the True King. At the beginning of the book, parts of the story left me a tad confused, having to backtrack a couple of pages in order to clear up certain things that weren’t clearly explained. The plot itself also seemed to drag on a little bit at the beginning of the novel. Then, when the midpoint of the book was reached, the plot sped up waaay too fast. By the end of the book, I felt like the author had crammed a whole novel’s worth of information into that last fifty percent of the story. The entire ending felt incredibly rushed and it almost felt like the book was trying to reach a happy ending as soon as possible rather than produce great quality writing.

What I did really appreciate though, was how accurately this book seemed to mirror specific issues that our society is facing today. The Lagrimari, as well as Jasminda, being naturally dark-skinned, faced a lot of hatred, racism and xenophobia. The refugees in Elsira were treated absolutely horrifically and it broke my heart when I had to read through those specific passages. I think it’s great that books like these are raising awareness to these problems and will hopefully spread a positive message which will inspire many to fight for love and peace for all. Not only that, but I loved the representation in this book, including a biracial main character (Jasminda), many other people of color as well as an adorable lesbian couple. 

I did enjoy my read of this book, but overall I felt like this novel did fall short of being the amazing story which the world and the overall plot definitely could have attained. I still think this is a great read and would recommend anyone who enjoys fantastic world-building, wants to see a strong female lead and doesn’t mind certain book tropes playing out. I will definitely pick up the next book though!

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