Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.
Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.
Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?
‘If I had been born a boy’ – how many of us have thought that at some point? Talia wants to stay at home as her father’s apprentice but, being a girl, this sadly isn’t an option.
Instead she is sold by her parents to Queen Vina, a woman from a heavenly dimension. Vina has been led to Talia by a magical talisman she received from the mysterious Nicodemus but Talia cannot get past her parents’ betrayal and refuses to accept Vina’s love.
The story alternates between Talia and Vina’s POV but neither woman is a reliable witness and the reader is left wondering what the truth actually is, especially as the scenes have an almost dream-like appearance.
Both women are likeable, if frustrating, well-fleshed out characters, who behave foolishly but believably given their backgrounds. They allow themselves to be manipulated by someone with an ulterior motive and it is hard to see how they will manage to achieve their happy ending.
The world building gives just enough to form a picture without being too much. Personally I dislike large chunks of description so this suits me (I skimmed many descriptive parts of Lord of the Rings, for example!)
Ms. Vitsky delights in ambiguity and leaves much to the imagination, but that is no bad thing. In this case, however I would have liked more information on Nicodemus and the talisman.
Another great book, and a sequel is in the works.
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