cover image To Cage a God

To Cage a God

Elizabeth May. DAW, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1881-6

May (the Falconer series) launches a duology with this action-filled yet flawed dark romantasy. In a fantasy world inspired by Imperial Russia, foster sisters Sera and Galina are raised by the leader of a growing rebellion, who grafts dragon gods into their bones and brings them up as living weapons against the cruel empire. The sisters spend years on the run from this destiny, but when their mother dies, the emperor is assassinated, and the country teeters on the brink of war, they feel they have no choice but to rejoin the rebellion. Sera reunites with her estranged lover, Vitaly, the current rebellion leader, while Galina infiltrates the palace as a spy to take down the empire from within. But falling for the sharp-eyed Princess Vasilisa, the empress’s daughter, is a setback to Galina’s plan. Now she must choose between her own happiness and that of her people. The stakes are high, the action scenes are well executed, and the magic system fascinates, though it raises more questions than it answers. The worldbuilding as a whole feels underbaked, and what details readers do get are delivered in lengthy info dumps. Meanwhile, multiple narratives and point-of-view switches lend a muddled feel to the plot. Diehard romantasy fans may be entertained, but this series is off to a rocky start. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh. (Feb.)