Reviews tagging 'Sexual violence'

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair

10 reviews

sunrae17's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark fast-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? Yes

4.5


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

ninjatrombonist's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark sad 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

4.0


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

moodreadererin's review against another edition

Go to review page

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 .

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

bisexualwentworth's review against another edition

Go to review page

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.  

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

alilab14's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective sad 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

4.75

This is written by an Indigenous Women (Anishinaabe-kwe) and this fantasy world has some Indigenous influences into its story. So Keera reflects the damages from colonialism and intergenerational trauma that Indigenous people still face. The main character suffers from alcohol abuse and self harm and after reading others reviews, from assuming non-Indigenous reviewers, I will like to say an an Indigenous reader this is not written to be harmful or romanticized but actually very hopeful and I’m very glad Melissa gave Keera a very deeply human internal battle. But I will also say it is hard to read so if you may be sensitive to these topics, especially if you have been affected by colonialism, question  if you can read it, but Keeras journey is full of hope. There is a content warning in the front of book and on this website 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

el393way's review against another edition

Go to review page

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

2.5

In the moment of reading this book, I enjoyed it enough to finish it with ease. After finishing, I thought about some things a bit more and started to change my opinion. I can see why people have overall rated this book so high. It was easy to get through, had some quick pacing at times, and had lots of the tropes people really like.

The representation of different types of people (I assume comparing to different races) was probably the most consistently well-done part of this book. It would make sense as this topic is important to the author and she is able to give an own-voice perspective to it. Some of the divisions of the different fae, humans, halflings, and elves was a bit confusing, but mostly well done.

After learning the origin of this book, the over abundance of tropes makes sense. However, it feels like checking off tropes was more important than a cohesive plot. The book tried to stay lighthearted in some ways but also tackled some very sensitive subjects. It didn't feel like the author had personal experience with any of these tough topics, so the portrayal of them (alcoholism and self-harm) were very poorly done compared to the topic that did have importance to the author. It was a bit frustrating that the idea of self harm felt very surface level and then was completely abandoned by the time it was finally revealed to the love interest. In fact, it became something that made her more attractive. The internal thoughts of the character regarding her alcoholism were somewhat accurate but the outward portrayal was so unrealistic. Her addiction was given a literal magic potion to make it go away.

The pacing of the book was so strange. Some things like travel and visits to elsewhere, that had potential for so much to happen, were quick and seemingly unimportant. But then whole chapters were devoted to planning things and discussion of crop economics. It was bizarre.

I think this author has the potential to make a good second book considering it would be impossible to release it in the same way they did the first. I would hope that the author takes note of the critiques received because there really is potential for this world to improve.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

tessa_b's review against another edition

Go to review page

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

4.5


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

themoonphoenix's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark 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

4.0

A few centuries ago, in the Kingdom of Elverath King Aemon decreed that there are only two species, mortals and dark fae. Halflings and elves were either destroyed or owned by the crown.

A Broken Blade is the first book of a new high fantasy saga, some of the tropes are:
• Morally grey characters
• The Evil Overlord
• Political Intrigue
• Enemies to lovers

Keera is the blade of the kingdom and has been for the last few decades, her work is to find Halflings and kill them, she is a complex character that feels guilty about her work and resorts to drinking to mitigate the guilt. You will root for Keera, even if you haven't lived her experiences, you will understand her and want to support her cause, I enjoy her character development.

There is a lot of action, and blade scenes (love it) Keera will join a group of diverse characters for the fall of the king and his horrible government. They are great characters, morally grey too, sarcastic, and loyal.
There is romance too, specifically Enemies to lovers, the tension here is 🔥, my favorite part is the communication part, the trust in each other.

Is a good debut, I was hooked, it’s fast-paced, the world-building is interesting, and I want to know more about the differences between the species and their magic. Also, the story touches on many topics like alcoholism, self-harm, violence, and colonialism.

I don't know how many books there will be but this ends in a cliffhanger, I need info about the second book ASAP. If you like books like a throne of glass or six crowns I think you will enjoy this.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

soniajoy98's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional inspiring 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? Yes

3.5


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

livreads54's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous challenging 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

4.25

I went into this book fully expecting it to be fine but it was actually really good. I got it because I wanted to solve the author mystery (which I definitely did not do), but I ended up having more fun with the story than the mystery. Heavy fantasy isn’t usually my thing, but the world building here was so good that I didn’t mind. 

The characters were really interesting, and the way they interacted with each other was fantastic. I think it’s so rare to see friendships in adult fantasy that are healthy and fun, but this book has some of the best friendships I’ve seen in this genre. Keera is a super compelling main character, but I found that Riven fell a little flat for me at times. The side characters were phenomenal, and everyone was pretty well developed considering this is only the first book in a series. 

My main complaint is that certain plot points got repetitive. The way that Keera’s drinking was described was really redundant, but other than that, I thought the book was pretty well written. For a debut, I think the writing was really solid, and I was pleasantly surprised. If you’re a fan of adult fantasy, I absolutely recommend that you pick up a copy of this book.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings
More...