As the second child of the Aridan imperial family, nineteen-year-old Guerline knows exactly what is expected of her: be unobtrusive, be compliant, and do not fall in love with her low-born companion, Eva. She has succeeded at only two of those.
But before her feelings for Eva can become a point of contention for the royal house, Guerline’s calm and narrow life is ripped away from her—in the course of a single night—and she is abruptly cast in the role of empress.
Faced with a council that aggressively fears the four witch clans charged with protecting Arido and believes they are, in fact, waging war against the humans, Guerline struggles to maintain order. As her control over the land crumbles, she learns that the war is rooted in a conflict much older than she realized—one centuries in the making, which is now crawling from under the mountain and into the light. With the fate of Arido hanging in the balance, Guerline must decide who to trust when even her closest councilors seem to have an agenda.
Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the publisher.
READ THIS BOOK IF:
- You’re looking for an epic fantasy with an abundance of diverse creatures
- You’re all about the adventure
- Self discovery is your game, romance is second
- You’ve been hungering for an LGBT fantasy because let’s face it, they’re like unicorns. Actually, there are probably more unicorns than gay people in fantasy.
- Guerline is an amazing protagonist. After being beat down and told she’s nothing her whole life, second rate to her repulsive brother, her growth is incredible. Throughout the story Guerline struggles to figure out who she is and who she wants to be as a leader. For so long her voice was silenced by others more powerful than her and as she finds her autonomy and confidence, it’s beautiful to experience. She falls in love, she explores, she finds the passion within herself to lead and be a fair.
- Magical creatures in abundance. THE WORLD BUILDING. So many layers. A smattering of myth with a fairy tale feeling that heads on into classic fantasy, there’s something for everyone. Shapeshifters, witches, trolls, goblins, gods, warriors, you name it, it’s there. Oh and zombies. What more could you ask for?
- This is the first time I’ve ever encountered I guess you could say, sexually open people in fantasy. It could be that I haven’t expanded my reading enough but it was a nice change. The characters are about love and the spark, gender doesn’t matter to them, and it’s the outside forces that care.
- Multiple POVs provide unique voices for each character.
- What is the nature of evil? How do we define it? Who are we to judge and how do we construct it in society? There are so many philosophical questions about humanity but not through humans.
- Battle scenes galore.
- There wasn’t as much development in the feels department as I would have liked. What should have been extremely emotional losses were a little so-so. There is so much going on plotwise that it kind of detracts from the emotional aspect for many of the secondary characters.
- The twins and the enemy. They were barely included. I would have liked to see more of their reasoning, the explanation of why they defected, and just how vile the villain was to be imprisoned. That crucial backstory wasn’t fleshed out.
Cait Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy From Under the Mountain and the horror novella series, “The Web“. Her enduring love of fantasy started young, thanks to authors like Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, and many more. Now, she explores the rules and ramifications of magic in her own works—and as a panromantic asexual, she’s committed to queering her favorite genres.
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