Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
I absolutely loved this book that is a fantasy alternate 1800s historical novel. Elliott really did an excellent job researching and piecing together a Europe and Africa that took another path because of magic (and ghouls!) and Roman battles not working out quite the same way. The Phoenicians -- or Kena'ani, as the protagonist calls her people -- are alive and well, still relatively prospering... Though the story begins with a terrible betrayal and moves on to adventure and intrigue and hints of romance.
This alternate Europe is just so fascinating -- and not just because of the plot, but because of how rich a culture Elliott crafts from research and magic and folklore. There is some exposition, but it's usually woven in very well and rather than drown us in facts (I'd actually be mostly okay with that) the author perfectly hints at deeper histories lying below the interactions that we see. It's also very interesting that none of the conflicts between peoples has anything to do with skin color. That sort of marker seems perfectly acceptable to all the characters thus far and many groups are very mixed at this point. The conflicts arise from shared histories and past conflicts.
The characters are superb and I love that the heroine can be strong and weak and clever and silly and really, just a bit of everything like a normal person is -- but overall she's willing to stand up for herself and the right thing.
I am so excited to read the next two books in the series and will have to decide in a few whether to go on with the series right now (there was kind of a cliffhanger, but at least the series is all published!) or work on my stack of library books... Decisions, decisions...