Reviews tagging 'Sexual assault'

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair

16 reviews

msrae89's review against another edition

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I was looking forward to this book but, even though I’m almost done with it, I just can’t keep doing. The writing is a little repetitive, the characters aren’t as compelling as I typically enjoy, and the love subplot isn’t my jam. Ultimately it just isn’t for me. 

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ladyknightmeg's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

The pacing of this book is a little slow, but it’s totally worth it. 

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moodreadererin's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

A Broken Blade follows Keera , the king's blade . She is given a mission to find the new enemy of the crown: the shadow . We go on this journal with her find the shadow and everything that precedes/follows . This is a story of addiction , loss , love , revenge , and violence . 

Things I liked :

-enemies to lovers execution was fantastic 

- one bed trope

-bipoc representation 

- exploration of loss , addiction, recovery in face of violence . 

-found family 

Things I didn't like :

- the pacing was slower than I liked . I didn't like it until the end /last part of the book.

With that said , I still recommend this book. I am looking forward to the sequel .

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jassiecones's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional funny inspiring tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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kowhaiii's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

This was a great book! I loved Keera and her struggles throughout the story. I found her relationships alright, but somewhat stale at times. Wasn't a huge fan of the ending, but I'll have to wait for the sequel to really decide! Loved the diversity and queer representation in this book. I really couldn't fault the world, premise, or character concepts if I tried!

A Broken Blade was a brilliant debut novel with wonderful world building and memorable characters. I have many unanswered questions in the best and worst ways, and I can't wait for the series to continue! :D

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sflory910's review against another edition

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adventurous dark hopeful mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Not super well written and chock full of cliches, but still a surprisingly enjoyable read! If I’d found this book when I was 17, it would have become my whole personality. It deals with some serious subjects, but is definitely written for YA, or at the very least by someone that writes YA fiction.

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bisexualwentworth's review against another edition

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adventurous fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Disclaimer about how I read this book:
I bought the original self-published version back in 2021 and have a copy of that edition on my bookshelf. However, I ended up getting the traditionally published version as an ebook through the library, so all of my critiques are on the most polished version of the story, not the anonymous 2021 version.

I have a LOT of very lovely friends and mutuals who LOVE this book and for whom it means a lot. I am so happy that all of you have this book and that it gave you so much of value. I am also not going to hold back on any of my critiques simply because people I like and respect are going to disagree with them.

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair is a quick, easy read. I breezed through it in a couple of days during my less-busy moments at work.

I've followed Blair on TikTok for several years, and I appreciate a lot of what she was trying to do with this book. In particular, she aimed to breathe diversity and an indigenous perspective into the very white-dominated (and frequently very racist) fantasy romance genre. I think she mostly succeeded in that goal.

I enjoyed some of the dialogue, and several characters had interesting moments. Killian was probably the most compelling character for me, but I also look forward to seeing more of Syrra and several others.

Blair's creation of the Shades was clearly inspired by a deeply personal knowledge of colonization and the horrors it inflicts on indigenous women in particular, and I look forward to a deeper exploration of their situation in the sequel.

The book is fast-paced, and the mystery is structured very competently, if also very obviously.

My first, and possibly biggest, issue with this book is the lack of depth to the world. I think that good fantasy writers ground their worlds in inspirations drawn from real-world cultures and real-world history. And this book has the IDEA of that inspiration, but it's not grounded in anything.

Basically, the entire aesthetic of this book is a renaissance faire. People wear corsets and cloaks and have leg slits in their dresses. I have no sense of the geography of this world beyond what is given in the map at the front. I have no sense of the agriculture or trade or economic system. I have no visuals of anything other than clothing, weapons, and some of the characters' faces. And I don't think that authors have to give us all of that, but it's very jarring to get these very in-depth descriptions of Keera's outfits and then have very little sense of the world at large.

"What if a basic fantasy world with a ren faire aesthetic was an evil colonialist power that enslaves and commits genocide against its magical creatures and we actually confronted that?" is a VERY compelling question to ask and a very compelling setup for a book. I just don't feel like A Broken Blade explores that question below the surface, and that's a problem that starts with the worldbuilding and continues through every single other aspect of the book.

I've heard many people point to Keera's character as a highlight of the book, and while I understand why other readers would like or relate to her, she simply did not work for me as a character. I did not feel like her alcoholism was handled very well. The balance of showing and telling was totally off (as with a lot of things in this book, honestly), and I felt like "oh yeah she takes this magical drug and it gets rid of her alcoholism and then her body looks better" was very much a cop-out of what could have been a fascinating and harrowing character arc about her struggles with addiction.

I honestly think Keera might have worked better as a third-person point-of-view character than she does as a first-person narrator. Her motivations all come to us in dialogue or in flashbacks, and a lot of her choices felt hollow to me because of that. Part of my frustration might be that I read this book shortly after The Unbroken by C. L. Clark, which features a main character who heartbreakingly deconstructs the colonialism that has shaped her upbringing and then does some really powerful things afterward, and maybe I was unfairly hoping for a similar arc for Keera, but regardless, Keera's choices and motivations fell flat.

And that is SO FRUSTRATING to me because, like I said earlier, the Shades are SO CONCEPTUALLY COMPELLING, and there is so much potential to explore so many issues there, both through metaphor and through the implications that Melissa Blair has created in her own world. If only Keera ACTUALLY cared about the other Shades the way she claims to. If only the narrative afforded them the agency to make their own decisions or question their situation.

I truly felt like Keera cared more about NIkolai, someone she barely knows, than she does about the Shades, her own people. Yes, she SAYS that everything she does is for the Shades, but her actions say the opposite. 

My other big issue with this book is that it feels like it was constructed around popular tropes in order to have a marketable story—and that's because it was. It was written using tropes that BookTok loves so that BookTok would read it. And that's fine. But I can tell when I'm reading it that despite the author's passion about colonization and indigenous issues, this book was written less out of a desire to explore those themes in a fantasy setting (though that desire was certainly present) and more out of a desire to write something that would sell. That is a totally understandable motivation. We all have it, as writers. It just makes for a less compelling story with less substance to it.

Another issue I had with this book is that the way it talks about gender is very shallow. I think there's some sort of attempt at a critique of cisnormativity, but it's happening through the lens of fantasy metaphors, and it doesn't really work. Hopefully the sequel will either do a better job of exploring that issue or will ignore it completely.

Keera is bisexual and has a past relationship with a woman
Spoiler (though I hate that said queer woman was essentially fridged to further Keera's character development, and I would have been a lot less frustrated with that choice if there had been another sapphic couple on-page)
, and people who apparently read certain parts of the text more closely than I did assure me that several other characters (most of the main cast, in fact) are stated to be queer in some way as well (I somehow missed most of this, but I do trust my sources very much on this one). So it is a queer book. And the main romance is fun. I didn't care about it much because again, it felt like it was constructed more around the tropes than it was around what made sense for the characters, but I understand why other readers would like it, and I do look forward to seeing where it goes in the sequel.

A few weeks ago, I sent a pretty rough draft of the first couple chapters of a fantasy novel to beta readers, and a lot of the feedback I've gotten back is about the overall indistinctness of the world in those opening chapters. People aren't sure what's going on or what anything looks like. There's nothing tethering them to the world. There's nothing making them care. There are seeds of compelling ideas and maybe even compelling characters, but the thing itself is not yet compelling, or in fact very good.

This sort of feedback is not fun to get from people you like and respect. It hurts. Of course it does. Because in your mind, as the writer, as the creator of this world, the visuals sparkle. The ideas are THERE. The characters are fleshed out to perfection. But that's all in my head, and that's why I have those beta readers—to tell me what gaps they’re seeing, so that I can work on actually executing those ideas I have.

A Broken Blade reads like that first draft I sent out. The seeds of something compelling. Some moments that are genuinely interesting or good or fun. But it reads as though it never got serious content editing. Like the author didn't have someone look at it in the early stages and say, "I can't really visualize what this world looks like beyond some clear ren faire inspirations, and I feel like you're really interested in exploring these specific themes, but they’re not coming through in a very clear way."

And that's why I'm actually excited to read the sequel. Because maybe with more editing, not just of the text but of the CONTENT and the IDEAS and the WORLDBUILDING, this has the potential to be a story that I really enjoy and become really invested in. The execution just really was not there in this one.  

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cassandramt17's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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beckyyreadss's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

I wanted to read this book due to the hype that was all over Booktok in 2021. It took me a while to get around to read it but I'm glad I've read it now with the sequel coming out this year, because that cliff hanger left me wanting more.  

Keera is a killer. As the King’s Blade, she is the most talented spy in the Kingdom and the King’s favourite assassin. When a mysterious figure called the Shadow starts making moves against the Crown, Keera is forced to hunt the masked figure down. She crosses into the magical land of the Fae, trying to discern if the enemy is Mortal, Elf or a Halfling like her. But the Faeland is nothing to what it seems, and neither is the Shadow. Keera is shocked by what she discovers and can’t help but wonder who her enemy truly is – Is it the King that destroyed her people? The Prince that tortures them? Or the Shadow that threatens her place at court? As Keera searches for an answer, she is haunted by a promise she made a long time ago. A promise not to save herself but an entire kingdom.  

This book is thrilling, details and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I love the idea of this book and I love how it was executed. You wouldn’t think that this book was a debut novel. It was so good. I love Keera, I'm scared of her, and I want to be her, and she can hit me as much as she wants, and I would say thank you. I love the found family aspect of this and the storyline and it was an enjoyable read. I just wanted more. I'm so glad that there is a sequel – June cannot come quick enough. I liked the mystery in this book and you constantly wondering what the promise what that she made and who the connection is. I wouldn’t say it was a weakness, but I would have loved more of a mystery of the Shadow, I understand why they were revealed when they were, but I would have loved more of a build-up on who the Shadow was. After we find out who the Shadow is, I feel like it was very fast-paced and a lot of action.  

I really enjoyed this debut novel of Melissa Blair’s and I cannot wait for the sequel and to see more of Keera kick some ass. 

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thebakerbookworm's review

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adventurous slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Special orphan girl kills people in service to an evil king/tyrant because she has no choice but she feels *really bad* about it. She's also really good at it. Everyone judges her for being as evil as the king until they learn just how bad she actually feels, and then they fall in (romantic or platonic) love with her instead. She joins the war effort to overthrow said evil king, and then discovers she is actually uber special because of her secret heritage.

Sound familiar? I am describing A Broken Blade...but also countless other YA fantasy books. And that's what this whole story felt like—like I'd read it before. Nothing new, the plot points were all predictable, and the characters weren't unique or interesting enough to be memorable.

But it did entertain me, in the same way I'm guessing that people are entertained by Hallmark movies. It was comforting in its familiarity and predictability, rather than boring. The audio was also excellent, and that always helps.

Thanks to Libro.fm, Blackstone Publishing, and the author for my ALC.

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