Crown of Crimson (The Afterlight Chronicles #1) by Rose Reid

Synopsis:

First Rule of the Cannon: Trust no one.

Aerietta Elony is destined for evil.
Born into a royal family, it was quickly discovered that she bore the Jezdah mark — an intricate tattoo meant to identify the Children of the Elements. To make sure his people never knew about the danger that hid in their midst, the king had his daughter sent to the leader of the Cannon, his order of assassins, where she would learn to become one of them.
No one was ever supposed to know what Aerietta was, where she came from, or what she was destined to become. She’s never worried what would happen if someone discovered her secrets. But when a neighbouring kingdom attacks, and Aerietta is betrayed and captured, keeping her secret will mean the difference between life and death.
When the king of the neighbouring land enlists her services to track down one of her traitor companions, she has no choice but to accept. But in order to find her former friend and make it back to the king with her head still attached to her shoulders, she’ll have to keep the enigmatic, inhuman Swordmaster in the dark, which proves to be more difficult than she could ever imagine.
Deception abounds, danger is just as prevalent, but even in this world of demons and magic, the only thing Aerietta fears is herself.
The Queen of Crimson accepts (Via Goodreads)

Ratings – 2 out of 5 stars

This wasn’t actually as bad as my ratings may lead you to believe but while most of the book may have been good, the ending with regard to the romance in the book leave much to be desired.

Arrietta is an assassin and it wasn’t a life she chose for herself. She has a mark on her back which marks her as someone who will bring great strife for those around her. Still a young child, she is sent to the order of assassins, disowned by her father, the king. And since she is an assassin, she does kill people. I liked this because it is rare for a main character to kill simply because she is ordered to. Some of her victims were horrible while others were not.

Once she is betrayed and captured by another king, she is given a choice, hunt down one of her friends who betrayed her or face execution. She obviously chooses the former. There she is joined by Lyom, the Swordmaster, who is as gifted in the arts of combat as she is. He also comes across as the intended love interest and that is what really bothers me.

Arrietta and Lyom are adversaries from the beginning, especially Lyom. He hates her and for the longest time we don’t know why (of course, we find the reason by the end of the book along with Arrietta) However, since they are on a mission, they are forced to spend time together along with other members of Lyom’s guard.

The reader is to believe that in the midst of all their caustic interaction, somewhere along the lines they fell in love, or at least Arrietta did. While reading the book, there is probably only one or two instances where Lyom seems concerned about her well-being and even those I question. There is no question that Lyom hates her, it is made clear to both Arrietta and the reader on multiple occasions.

Arrietta is unable to complete her mission and is sent back to the dungeon, to make matters worse, her mark is discovered and now she faces certain death. For those who think that Lyom fell in love with her, I believe that while he certainly feels sorry for her, he has no qualms about hurting her and causing her pain. Yes, there is the “tightening of muscles”, “softening of the eyes” and all of it is bullshit. He doesn’t even try to help her, indeed I don’t even think he considers it. And the worse part, Arrietta still likes him! She feels jealous of the princess who may or may not be sweet on him. Seriously!? She should have been running in the opposite direction. She has every indication that he’s not to be trusted and she still does. How could she believe that someone who hated her so intensely could suddenly change. That’s not how it works.

I didn’t hate the book, but I hated the “romantic relationship”, it was awful and toxic. I will read the second book, but I fervently hope that Lyom is NOT Arrietta’s love interest (though the chances of that happening are slim to none)

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