The princess didn’t expect to fall in love–with her nemesis.
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.
Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora’s gift could save Tarik’s kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, published October 4th, 2016, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
When I began Nemesis, I could confidently call myself a fan of Anna Banks. Halfway through the book, I wasn’t so sure anymore. Now, at the end, I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I’d still read her contemporary or magical realism, but her pure fantasy isn’t for me. There were a few reasons for this, but they’re all under the overarching statement that Nemesis has no real depth.
I mean–this is essentially a romance novel. Not that romance always correlates lack of depth; it’s just a good starting place.
The romance focus is a point that surprised me because the first few times I went over this review, I tried to defend the book and say it wasn’t purely a romance. However, in the end, that was the conclusion I came to, and that wasn’t to belittle it. In fact, the romance was my favorite part of the story. It kept me going by bringing back the witty banter and great development/pacing of Of Poseidon, and I loved Sepora and Tarik together.
The problem came in that Sepora and Tarik’s relationship was supposed to be complicated. There are a lot of monkey wrenches thrown into the equation (jealous brothers, “nemesis” status, sad backstory, to name a few), but in the end, their story isn’t that memorable. The hate to love relationship trope isn’t even worth mentioning because it was mentioned in the beginning and almost immediately cast aside. If anything, the trope you should be paying attention to is the attendant/slave and king relationship, which is mainly what the story is about.
The romance is a great way to show what Nemesis is like.
The entire book plays out like this. It thinks its a certain way, and it makes plenty of promises, but in the end, it’s something different. Slightly similar, but different. These plot changes weren’t deal breakers, but they were unexpected.
All other events became sub-plots to the romance, and I don’t like fantasy like that. I know people who do, and this book would be perfect for them, but it wasn’t my type of story. The other stories within the book, namely the plague “sweeping the kingdom”, were pretty weak. What ended up happening was a little bit of action would occur in a subplot, and then the romance would come in and everything else would be put on pause. The pacing in those areas fell through completely because of that, and it felt like the story was making no progress whatsoever in issues that actually mattered.
In part because of the put-on-pause reaction, all information on the world and the magic within it felt like info-dumping. If I had to describe the writing in two words or phrases, they would be info-dumping and tell, not show. We’re told a whole lot, but in the end, most of it is meaningless. I couldn’t, and wasn’t very interested in, keeping up with the information I was bombarded with in the beginning of the book. Admittedly, things become better, especially the middle and the end, but I believe there’s better fantasy out there for big fans of the genre.
If you’re looking for something like this but a little more oriented toward action, adventure, politics, etc., I would suggest you check out Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird and Kiersten White’s And I Darken. Stolen Songbird is a book fit between the thick historical-political fantasy of And I Darken and the romantic hate-to-love of Nemesis. 2 stars.