I was extremely lucky to be a beta reader for Dance of Despair and I feel privileged to have been a part of it’s development as it is an amazing read. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

Last year I read the first book in The Ilvannian Chronicles, Crown of Conspiracy, and I ate it up. I asked in my review at the time, ‘Why hasn’t this Indie author got a book deal?’. My view hasn’t changed. In fact, Kara S. Weaver is a writing genius. Traditional publishers are seriously missing out by not having her on their books.

Crown of Conspiracy set the tone for the series perfectly with the tale of a reluctant princess, filled with action from the first page to the last. Untold secrets, betrayals and theories galore, I really didn’t want it to end, but end it did, and with a huge cliff hanger.

Dance of Despair picks up where we left the action, and here’s my review, without the spoilers.

Unlike the first book, this is told from the perspective of two characters. One remains in Ilvanna, in the familiar setting of snow and mountains, but it is anything but comforting. The other finds themselves in exotic and vibrant surroundings, struggling to find their place while also hiding their identity.

Kara has such an easy and natural way of bringing in details of the world around the characters that you are instantly transported into the cold stone halls of the palace, or searing heat of the desert.

All of the characters are well detailed and real! There is no hopeless princess or macho man coming to save her. No, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, which are consistent throughout.

What I love about Dance of Despair is the side characters, who are anything but! From the palace healer, to the Araîtiste (tattoo-artist), to the Gemsha (I’ll leave you to find that one out), and even Gods, everyone has their moment in the spotlight. Every one has a purpose. Every one adds a little nugget of information, driving the plot forward and filling in the gaps left by the passage of time.

Some characters you will love, believe me I have many, and others… not so much. What I can guarantee is an emotional roller coaster as you become submerged in the story and walk in the characters footsteps. You will laugh (Kara still owes me a coffee after I spat my cortado over the train!), cry and shout in frustration in equal measure, but one thing you won’t be is disappointed.

Shalitha and Talnovar went through hell in Crown of Conspiracy. In Dance of Despair they are doing just that. Both are dancing on a tight rope of despair trying desperately to reach the other side. I’m not going to give anything away, but it’s certainly not a smooth crossing. Both are vulnerable, both are damaged, but can they be healed? All I will say is, expect the unexpected.

You would be crazy not to give this series a read. If fantasy isn’t your thing read it anyway, because the story is told in such a subtle way that you don’t even realise that it is fantasy. You will be drawn in from the very first page, so deeply in fact that you will likely read through them in a day or two. You’ve been warned. Make sure you clear your diary as, once you find yourself tangled in the conspiracy, you’ll have a hard time walking away. I really can’t wait for the next instalment!

For your copy of Crown of Conspiracy and Dance of Despair, head to Amazon.

Speak soon, Jodie xxx

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