Today I have the pleasure of hosting a stop on the final day of the blog tour for book two in Jessica Thorne’s The Hollow King series, Nightborn. Yes it’s fantasy, yes it revolves around an epic romance, and yes it’s wonderfully good.
P.S.: It’s weird to be on a blog tour when it feels like the world is on fire.
Author: Jessica Thorne
Publication Date: May 26th 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Themes: Romance, Rebellion, Tyranny, Magic
Like deep dark water, it pulls them down. The faint fire of magic within them flickers and dies. Their eyes turn black as night. They are nightborn now.
Grace Marchant has been many things: streetwise orphan, rebellious servant, and now beloved companion of Prince Bastien, heir to the throne of Larelwynn. But their sunlit happiness is not destined to last. The golden magic which brought them together in purest passion is threatened by strange and ancient forces. Innocent people are becoming nightborn – cruel, deadly, unrecognisable to their loved ones – and these two young lovers are the only ones with power enough to stop it.
In times of peace, striking a deal with their closest enemy would be unthinkable, but now their only hope is to ally with the neighbouring Valenti royal family: manipulative, cunning, and always with an eye on the Larelwynn throne. The partnership comes at a devastating price… if Grace wants to defeat the nightborn, she must watch Bastien marry a Valenti princess.
Grace knows she must make this heart-wrenching sacrifice for the good of the whole kingdom – but she also fears the magic in her veins, usually so warm and bright, is turning cold as deepest midnight. A beguiling darkness whispers to her from within. Is Grace herself becoming nightborn?
Time is running out. With Bastien promised to another, and a stony distance growing between them, will Grace find the source of the nightborn curse before every last soul is consumed by the darkness?
Combining sizzling romance, courtly intrigue, and heart-in-your-mouth action, this dark and addictive fantasy series is perfect for fans of Graceling and Emily R. King.
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I adored Mageborn, but Nightborn takes the The Hollow King series to a whole new level. Picking up three months after Grace, Bastien, Danny, Misha, and Ellyn fled Rathlynn we step back into the story with a whole new set of problems brewing on top of the ones they left behind. Celeste is still wreaking havoc, Aurelie is still grasping for power, and Asher is scheming in the background and loyal to no-one but himself. But now they have to deal with the mageborn not only going hollow but turning dark, a Valenti queen trying to trap Bastien into a loveless political marriage, and strong tides of civil unrest from both the mageborn rebelling against their maltreatment and the oppressing class using events as excuse to commit genocide. Needless to say, the real world parallels were both difficult to digest given current events but also humbling and needed.
Though this book is considerably darker than Mageborn there is still plenty of beauty and joy to be found. The plot is an absolute roller-coaster with plenty of twists and turns, and the intense action is balanced out with moments of tenderness and exceptional loyalty. There’s a vast array of morally grey characters, and the chapters told from multiple POVs allow for deep character development.
As a result I ended up falling in love with Kurt – everything from his snark to his commitment to the community he lives in made him one of my favourites. I’m so glad he got to play a more prominent role in this book. My heart broke with the first nightborn he tried to help and swelled with pride at his leadership in the final chapters. But Grace, hands down, steals the show. She gets more complex with every page and doesn’t shy away from the tough decisions. The dedication she shows her friends is commendable, even when it’s not the easiest route. She’s still stubborn and headstrong, and I can’t stress how much appreciated that her fire never lessened even with romance in the picture.
Finally, I love magic systems and fantasy worlds, but what really strikes home is that the magic in Thorne’s world always comes at a cost. The mageborn have access to incredible power, but it comes with the knowledge that it can, and often does, kill them. This provides a subtle balance as the reasons and mechanisms for their oppression, and it really prompts some deep thinking once you get past the splendours of Rathlynn and Valenti. Now add in an ancient evil that seeks to reclaim that power for other purposes all together and you’ve got a recipe for some serious drama to kick off.
Altogether this is a fantastic read – it’s witty, fast paced, and chalk full of characters that are sure to capture your heart. If you like a little romance with your fantasy, and even a little social commentary on the side, then I highly recommend it.
Like the sound of this book? Buy it here.
About the Author
Jessica Thorne saw Star Wars at an impressionable age and life was never the same. She’s loved fantasy, romance and science fiction ever since and spends her time looking for adventure – in the pages of her books.
Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long and won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015.
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Many thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.