ARC Review: Immortal Souls by Phoenix Vieira

Author: Phoenix Vieira
Publisher: Koa Tales
Publish Date: December 12, 2021
Print Length: 264

Official Synopsis
Immortal Souls is the fast-paced first book in an epic new fantasy series that blends unexpected mythology and faerie lore, romance and intrigue into an unforgettable read.

A fallen Empire. A forbidden royal romance. An ancient treaty with the Fae.

In a world tainted by greed and rebellion, death prowls the shadows of the once glorious Sun Empire, waiting to devour those who dare fight back.

Corvus, heir to the most powerful House, is a threat to the Emperor, despite being the dearest friend of Crown Princess Saphyr. When the Emperor forbids their friendship, Corvus forms an Alliance to overthrow him, until betrayal forces Corvus into exile.

After the lethal Queen of the Sirens emerges from the secret realm of Sirenibus, Corvus is tempted by an irresistible deal at a dangerous price. Caught up in a conspiracy and a war between light and darkness, can he and Saphyr save the people from a terrible destiny and restore the Empire to its former glory? Or will Corvus have to sacrifice more than he is willing to give? Will his life be enough, or will it also demand his soul?

My Review
I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

The first thing that drew me in to this book on NetGalley was the gorgeous cover. The male character, Corvus, on the cover art reminded me of the description of the Elf King in Elise Kova’s A Deal With the Elf King. The official blurb is also compelling, suggesting forbidden love, political intrigue, and death. The writing is decent and overall the plot has the good bones of a decent, but somewhat conventional, story. Unfortunately, this is where my positive comments stop, so I’ll keep this review to three main opinions.

One of the major aspects of this story is that Corvus is essentially forbidden from marrying Saphyr. Her father, the Emperor, doesn’t want to see Corvus on the throne. When she comes of age, he basically throws her eligibility to the highest bidder. Given her importance to Corvus, one would think Saphyr would have more page time; especially since she’s in most of the story. Instead she’s shoved to the background of in the way a tertiary character might be. She’s this delicate flower whose hair smells like nectarines every time Corvus gets close to her. In short, she’s a very flat character with almost no personality.

I’m sorry to say it, but I didn’t really like/couldn’t get attached to any of the characters. I think the pacing of the story, which is too fast, has a lot to do with that. At the very beginning the author throws us into Corvus’s point of view right before a coup. There’s constant action. Most of the writing is dialogue, including any form of self-reflection. I almost felt like I was reading a play. The non-dialogue portions were, generally, nice to read. I think this book could have benefitted more from these descriptive passages.

Lastly, the unexpected incorporation of the Christian God and loose religious discussion scattered throughout surprised me. It felt like a bait and switch since the synopsis didn’t indicate this story would fall more in the realm of YA Christian fantasy. No shade to those who enjoy it. But if I had known beforehand I would have passed since that genre isn’t for me. I think this is a large reason why the romance portion is so chaste and flat. Twice the author makes sure to mention that Corvus sits on top of the blankets on Saphyr’s bed rather than under them. I don’t mind if there’s a religious system in a fantasy book, but the God discussion occurred abruptly one third of the way through the book. Only near the end is it emphasized that the Emperor is “chosen” by God, something that could have been set up better at the beginning of the book.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that. I have other thoughts, but I don’t want to belabor my opinions. I think the publisher should perhaps adjust their marketing a little bit to indicate this leans more towards YA Christian fantasy. Perhaps that might prevent a mismatch between what a reader’s expectations from the synopsis and what’s actually in the story.

Rating: 2.25/5
Content warnings: allusion to torture
Reading format: Kindle e-book

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