Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy Romance, Fantasy | Release Date: 21 February 2023 | Series: The Gemdark Dynasty | Series Book: #1 | Pages: 309 | Indie Author | Review
A huge thank you has to go to Book Sirens and Ella Pyne for letting me read an e-ARC of Counterpart! This YA fantasy romance was even better than I expected, and is a complex tale of royalty, slaughter and betrayals. If that doesn’t make a reader sit up and take notice, I don’t know what will!
As the illegitimate sister of Azaria (aka a counterpart), Leda is on the verge of being sacrificed in front of the kingdom. Now twenty, she has just one year to live before she’s slaughtered with the ceremonial axe. According to lore, the King made a pact with the gods many years ago; for every year of prosperity, a royal child must murder their counterpart each year. Forming an unlikely alliance with Pyrrhus, the royal tutor, can Leda manage to escape her fate? Is there a rebellion on the horizon? And at the end of all things, whose blood will spill?
The plot within Counterpart is completely brand new to me, and of course I am going to adore that! It’s macabre, having royal children kill off their counterparts one by one, but what a storyline. So much revolves around this, including the infighting, the bloody results (aside from the actual yearly sacrifice), and the heartbreak every counterpart faces. They aren’t allowed to read, to talk to those in service of the royal children… They aren’t even allowed to be treated by the royal physician. It is both brutal and breathtaking.
This tale deals with a *lot* of heavy subjects, including drug addiction. But there are also moments of lightness, including Leda giving her siblings a swimming lesson. And as unlikely as this may sound, Azaria is one of my favourite characters. She is a complete enigma, and a bloodthirsty one at that. Azaria cannot be touched, as Leda well knows, but that doesn’t mean she’s incapable of feeling. If I were going into battle? I’d want an Azaria on my side. I really would.
Ella has given us a whole range of characters, and every one of them is unique. This isn’t easy to do, with the King having 12 royal children and their counterparts all gathered in Gemdark. Only a couple of lines might be given to describe some of them, but it infuses them with personality, along with an awareness of how they cope with the vicious life they’re born into. Is that a happiness boost? Or course it is!
So with all that said, is there a downside? Well, I hate to say it, but yes. While I can sympathise that trauma is probably why Leda can’t accept a choice Pyrrhus makes… Leda puts herself above the rest of the population, refusing to see what any other choice would’ve done to the realm. It’s hard for me to say it, but this is true selfishness. And that’s hard for me to like.
Counterpart by indie author Ella Pyne is a YA fantasy romance full of viciousness, heartache and bloodshed. There is so much to love about this brutal tale of love and sacrifice; I’m already looking forward to book two! When is it coming out? Who knows… But I’ll be ready, you can bet on that! Love what you’ve heard from my review? Click on the link below to pre-order a copy of this beauty! Happy reading, glitterbugs!
You can pre-order Counterpart via this link: Amazon