The Beholden

Cassandra Rose Clarke. Erewhon, $18.95 trade paper (544p) ISBN 978-1-64566-025-5
Two sisters strike a deal with a river goddess in this lush but slow-moving fantasy from Clarke (Forget This Ever Happened). Orphaned sisters Celestia and Izara De Malena’s fortunes are dwindling, leaving them desperate to save their failing rainforest acreage. Izara summons the Lady of the Seraphine to make a bargain: a husband for Celestia with enough money to save the sisters’ land and pay for Izara to study magic in exchange for an unknown favor to be paid to the Lady at some point in the future. Five years later, with rumors of war on the horizon and a mysterious disease sweeping the land, the Lady calls in this favor, sending Celestia, now pregnant, and Izara on a perilous journey to seek a reclusive yet powerful mage while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Clarke’s writing shines in rich descriptions of the jungle setting and the complex dynamic between the sisters, but the plot-driven adventure moves at a snail’s pace, weighed down with excessive expositional worldbuilding. Meanwhile, the nature-based magic system is fascinating, but feels underexplored. The lovely prose and transportive, atmospheric scene-setting may be enough to grab some readers, but others will struggle. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/10/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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