***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and AuthorBuzz.
Urus Noellor–a boy born deaf who is about to be publicly branded as a burden, incapable of being the warrior his people demand–stands upon a rooftop, poised to throw himself over the edge. His failed attempt at suicide unlocks within him a long-dormant form of magic thought to have died out thousands of years before, a power that may be the key to saving the world from an equally ancient enemy.
Urus and his companions–Goodwyn, the greatest warrior in Kest, and Cailix, a mysterious orphan–must find a way to stop a powerful group of sorcerers from destroying the five long-hidden vertices that ward the world against threats from beyond, while fighting off threats from within. They soon learn that the scope of the coming danger may be more dire than any of them could have imagined. As the battle for the vertices spreads to the neighboring realms, Goodwyn must face the realities of war and death; Cailix discovers a devastating truth that could change everything; and Urus discovers his uncanny gifts and courage as he peels away clues to his true identity. But even as Urus gains the power he has always craved, he experiences it all in profound, lonely silence.
- From the sprawling, diverse scenery to the brutally graphic gore and swordsmanship, The Fifth Vertex is fantasy at its finest. The imagery is breathtaking, innovative and combines classic magical creatures like dwarves and mages with science fiction and engineering. The submarines, the flying machines, and the elemental magic is reminiscent of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
- The pain, abuse, and violence is jaw-droppingly raw and realistic. The sheer agony both emotionally and physically that some of these characters endure is shocking but incredibly admirable. Urus’ relationship with his father, his beatings as a small child, everything is captured in these small scenes with such acute, bold description, it’s almost like an out-of-body experience. My heart shattered for Urus, knowing that on top of his trials in a warrior society as a deaf person he suffered the fists of his father is devastating. Those scenes are ones that will stick and haunt, nearly moving me to tears.
- Having never read a book from a deaf person’s perspective, I was kind of mindboggled about how Kevin Hoffman would work this disability into the structure of the story and was pleasantly surprised. Every struggle Urus faces, from his peers’ mockery to the frustrating in signing and not being understood is accentuated because you get Urus’ internal dialogue.
- Urus’ depression was palpable. It’s an all-consuming weight on his mind and a dagger in his heart. Feeling like a disappointment and a failure to the only people he cares about pushes him into a spiral of self-destruction and heartache that he yearns to be free from. The opening scene is one of the most powerfully gripping and sad I’ve encountered.
- Cailix is one savage, fireball of a protagonist. She’s edgy, violent, a psychological mastermind who understands humanity and the failings of man and uses them to her advantage. Cailix has been on her own for so long, at the mercy of her caregivers and has the scars to prove that she is a survivor. She knows better than to let her guard down or to trust anyone because people betray, brutalize, and only let her down. What’s so remarkable about Cailix is that after everything she’s been through she’s not broken or even hurting, she has immense compassion and fights tooth and nail for the innocent. From the moment Cailix was introduced into the story, I found myself speeding to get to her next section. Every part was a bloodthirsty, ingenious surprise. She’s a little America Singer (The Selection) meets Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass).
- Goodwyn and Therren. The flashback scene with the necklace. I melted. Goodwyn’s conflict to be a hulking, vicious warrior and to just forget the world and be with his beloved is a pure rush. It’s sweet, natural, and what’s more is that while the theme of homosexuality is strong, it’s not a main focus, making their relationship feel more authentic without being intrusive or judgemental.
- Blood mages are perfect for this story. Often when thinking of witches/mages in terms of blood it has to do with sacrifice to gain power but not sucking up the actual blood and forcing it to perform magic. There’s something very vampiric and almost Voodoo-like about how blood is used while feeling like a Celtic, druidic story.
- Twists and reveals that will stump and startle the reader.
- The secondary characters are just as lively and vibrant as the protagonists. The feels will drive you crazy.
- Subtle attraction. So often romance becomes the focus of YA books and takes away from the narrative. Romance is secondary and it allows for the plot to flourish. The story is completely solid.
- The cover is a little immature, it makes it seem like more of a children’s book than YA. The cartoonish characters detract from the menacing characters presented in the story and suggest a book that is more tame. That being said, due to the graphic violence, I would not recommend this for children.
- Some sections were slow and dragged on as Urus fled from one vertex to the next. Usually I’m really fond of description but found myself skimming through parts.
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