Years ago, the Kingdom of Rabu came under the control of the Automae after the war almost decimated the land. Now, humanity lives under their controlling and violent thumb. Ayla, a human servant, finds herself unexpectedly rising in her rank where she plots to kill the sovereign king’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier is Made to be perfect, without a single flaw, ready to carry her father’s legacy. However, her recent betrothal sees her spot slipping right from under her, and meeting Ayla creates tension that can start a war, but can they rise above it and stop before it goes too far?
A couple of months ago, I saw the prettiest book cover reveal I had ever seen and, with no shame, decided that I had to read this book. When I took a look at the description and saw it was an F/F sci-fi/fantasy novel about automation? A double whammy. I had brought myself up to hype Crier’s War and counted down the says to its release. There’s a lot to love about Ayla and Crier’s story, much of it I loved, but I did find it a quite directionless a lot of time, which was disappointing, to say the least.
This isn’t an original set up but what made this story stand out was how Varela utilises the concept of automation ruling over humanity. Set in an alternate future where alchemy has crafted the Automae who now rule the land. Humanity created them when their Queen was unable to have children, but they quickly rose up against their creators. The core of this book is mainly about what it means to be human, is it free will or the fact we have blood running through us that makes us so? I found it interested how the author uses this story to discuss oppression, privilege and appropriation. Was I expecting it? No. Did I like it? Very much so.
I have to note that my initial disappointment is that the hype around this novel seems to portray a much different novel than I had expected. Don’t get me wrong, this book is worthy of the hype, I just feel it gives off a different image than you would expect.
I do believe the book is well-written and went so smoothly, I didn’t realise I read 400 pages so quickly. I will note that pacing was patchy as some points and there was a lot of just all the characters taking ages to do something that doesn’t further the plot. Obviously, the first book in a series is a set up for what’s to come, but I did find myself so much more interested in the teasing of what Valera will touch upon in the sequel more than what was currently happening in the story, which is probably why I won’t be writing this book off so quickly because something massive is about to happen and I want to see it. The plot is so enthralling, Varela clearly knows how to keep a reader on their toes.
Ayla and Crier are our protagonists; one human, one Made. I found them quite wonderful and endearing despite their stories starting off as enemies. Ayla was raised hellbent on wanting to kill Crier but found herself so intrigued by her compassion, that it breaks into her hardened shell If they hadn’t fallen in love, I would’ve loved to have seen Ayla’s anger more. Without spoiling, but I hope to this touched upon more in the sequel, especially with the introduction of certain characters. Crier is motivated but her want to understand more, more about her self and her own supposed humanity. Their romance is yearning and sweet and coming together made them realise that they have more in common and that’s what will help them stop a war.
There was a definitely a lot of info dump at the beginning to introduce the readers to the world, and I get it’s not engaging for a lot of readers, but I prefered in this case. it helped set an understanding of what’s to come. The history chapters were really interested, makes me wonder if Valera will ever do a spin-off series that delves into it more because the potential is right there.
Looking back at this review, I realise it sounds quite negative but I did enjoy this book. I feel like I didn’t feel the same intensity that a majority of other readers felt. The world system is good, the characters come along quite well and the story hits off and is very entertaining. Maybe, there was a lack of charisma and the emphasis of enemies-to-lovers is a bit of stretch. But you know what, I’m still want to read on, the story has a lot to give and I’m ready to follow through.