The moment I finished reading the last page of Crier’s War by Nina Varela, I was left speechless. It was about midnight, and it took me a while to process what an incredible novel I had just read, to the point that I stared at my wall for a while. Crier’s War is a fantasy novel full of emotion, political intrigue and wonderful prose; it felt as if I was standing in a field of beautiful flowers, but all around was chaos unfolding. I know it’s probably a strange comparaison, but it is the closest to what it felt reading this truly stunning novel.
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.
Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.
Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.
Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
Before the story starts, the novel provides a quick timeline of the relevant history of this world, explaining the events leading to the war which changed everything. It gives a general idea of the world you are about to enter and discover, at least on a surface-level, enough that I was drawn in almost immediately, but without revealing the many layers that make up the history of this fantasy world. It also sets up the atmosphere, which is why I thought it was a great addition.
“Justice was a god, and Ayla didn’t believe in such childish things. She believed in blood.”
The prologue begins with an extract from a historical book, a common occurrence throughout the novel and a brilliant one. I love history, and I loved how it was intertwined in the story as both part of the world-building and the plot itself. The little snippets were absolutely perfect and I always looked forward to them. They were all intriguing and piecing them together was so fascinating. Also embedded in the story are flashbacks, and they truly matter. They ground the characters in the story amazingly, and they fit in the chapters like perfect puzzle pieces. They help with character development and world-building differently and I loved them.
When I said reading Crier’s War felt like standing in a field of stunning flowers, but with chaos all around it, it is because it is how the writing managed to depict the turmoil of the story while being astonishingly beautiful. There is a grace to the descriptions, creating wonderful prose full of emotions that hit me right in the heart. The sentences build a deep understanding of the emotions and minds of the main characters; it was like I was feeling the way they did as I was reading. It was heart wrenching but also soft, nostalgic … Nina Varela’s writing allows for a wide range of emotions to be painted on the page, and it was incredible. The long sentences, full of metaphors work perfectly in this novel; they’re beautiful to read, but they also create a gripping picture of the emotional turmoil of the characters throughout the story.
“Humanity is how you act, my Lady,” said Jezen. “Not how you were made.”
The world-building is masterfully done; it is woven in the characters’ minds but also scattered throughout the world and the whole novel. It is pieces here and there creating the much bigger picture slowly in a way that makes every piece of information important and fascinating. All the information also comes from different points of view or external sources to the characters, which made me question everything and definitely kept me on my toes.
The story is lead by two characters, Ayla and Crier, and their own point of view. Both have extremely distinct voices, with obvious differences that make them unique and fascinating to follow. Crier is always observing, always trying to understand how her universe and own mind works. Ayla is determined, angry, and often self-introspective as well and Nina Varela conveys their points of view with a very distinct style. I looked forward to their chapters with the same enthusiasm each time because they brought different things to the story. They both hold significant importance and the opposition it brought within the novel was really engaging. And the romance. The romance. It is truly enemies-to-lovers at its finest, with a magnificent build-up, I was amazed. From the progression, the quiet and soft moments to the intense scenes, it was a pure joy to read. Crier and Ayla’s romance is an excellent enemies-to-lovers and a slow-burn romance which fit their relationship so well. It was superbe.
“You couldn’t depend on much in this world, but you could depend on this: love brought nothing but death. Where love existed, death would follow, a wolf trailing after a wounded deer. Scenting blood in the air.”
I also loved how the characters, and especially Ayla and Crier, are flawed in very realistic ways, making them even more easy to get attached to. They seem truly real, from Crier’s naive vision of the world and how its history affects the people in it, to Ayla’s anger and strong-willed mind. They make mistakes, they misunderstand the world and themselves sometimes but it helps painting a piece with truly realistic characters.
With Crier’s War, Nina Varela created a stunning story of political intrigue rooted in fascinating characters and a world full of secrets. The writing brings the story to life in the most wonderful way with emotion but also realness. I was truly in awe when I finished this novel and I cannot wait to see what the sequel has in store. It is very obviously a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating for me, and one of my favourite novels of 2019 without a shadow of a doubt.
Have you read Crier’s War? What were your thoughts? Or do you plan to read the novel? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time,