Title: Secrets of the Starcrossed
Author: Clara O’Conner
Series: The Once and Future Queen
Release Date: 21/1/21
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 18
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
From Goodreads: In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…
Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city.
But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood.
A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…
When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?
Panem meets the Grishaverse in this explosive new YA trilogy perfect for readers of Marie Lu, Bella Forrest, and Cassandra Clare.
Oh this was such a disappointment. I read the the blurb about the setting for this and went Yes! Roman Londinium survived and grew into a bustling metropolis with roman rule, and undercurrents of celtic magic. What I got was a close to Current day London with some extra skyscrapers and some more slums, with the loosest scraping of roman-esq rule spread thinly on top. There was so much potential but none of it used. The city could have been reshaped but instead current day areas and landmarks persist, Piccadilly Circus (named for a 17th century fashion that couldn’t have happened in this alt history), Richmond (named from the French during the Norman invasion again not in this alt history), the houses of parliament and Battersea power station are still present. I might be being pedantic but to me this is lazy worldbuilding, just sticking roman on top of modern London, with no real imagination to how it would be different.
The plot is just as lack lustre in my opinion. I could physically count the steps of the hero’s journey and the number of try fail cycles. There are many great stories that follow the hero’s journey almost to the letter but still manage to sweep you along and not have it jump out so obviously. The plot also relies heavily on one of my most hated tropes and that is the just not telling the main character anything despite them needing the information and the secondary character holding all that information.
SPOILERS The love story is our main character Cass repeatedly returning to gain information from a MAN! (the characters are in there 20s), who refuses to tell her anything and refuses her advanced on several occasions, until Cass’s mother drugs her, Cass becomes unbearably horny and they give into their ‘desire’ (YIKES) End of spoilers
My last gripe is this is an NA. The characters are in there 20s but they act like and read like this was written as a younger audience YA. Cass is constantly justifying why she might find a man attractive. NEWS FLASH women, particularly Adults – which Cass is, are allowed to feel sexually attracted to other adults without having to have there sexual desire justified by Magic or Drugs, they can shock horror just find someone attractive. This might be my biggest gripe that we will continually market books that supress women’s feelings and desires and then pretend to paint them as positive as she wanted him she just needed Magic to overcome her societal pressure, YIKES all mighty!
Can we please have an NA that has healthy sexual parnerships, expression of female sexuality and desire with out it turning into a she is overcoming the system by having sex.
So that is my girpes, it really was the wrong book for me . You may love these tropes, you may be ok with a lazier amount of worldbuild (for me its a deal breaker) so you may enjoy this book. The writing style itself is very fuild and easy to read so I can say nothing bad about how it was written just the content of the story just was disappointing to me. Oh and there is a cliff hanger …