Thanks to BookishFirst for the finished paperback of Blade of Secrets! I claimed this one with some saved up points and am leaving a review accordingly.
I’ve been hit or miss with Levenseller’s books so far and fall somewhere in the middle with this one. I think she got some pushback for the promiscuity in The Shadows Between Us and toned it back, thankfully keeping the hookup content off page. For a young adult book I just don’t follow her philosophy that all that content is needed to write a good story!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Blade of Secrets
- Series: Bladesmith #1
- Author: Tricia Levenseller
- Publisher & Release: Feiwel & Friends May 2021
- Length: 336 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for YA fantasy fans
** Note that the paperback released June, 2022 from Square Fish **
Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:
In Blade of Secrets, the first book in Tricia Levenseller’s exciting new YA fantasy duology, a teenage blacksmith with social anxiety is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she’s ever made.
Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.
Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.
Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.
This is a fast paced book with a fun sounding plot. The synopsis presents a good idea and I can usually read one of her books in one or two sittings due to not having to think too hard, so I said WHY NOT and claimed a free copy. Enchanted weaponry, an all powerful sword, anxiety, ok sure.
Blade of Secrets reminds me more of Warrior of the Wild than her other books. Levenseller gives just enough world building to support the story but it kind of feels like walking through a cool place in the dark with a flashlight – you see what’s in front of you and some periphery, but miss a lot of potentially interesting details.
The same goes for the magic system. It is intent based for Ziva and seems to be hereditary. What we see is pretty cool from the world’s two magic users but I think there’s potential for a lot more.
Character wise, I liked everyone except the main character. The four characters (Ziva, Temra, Petrik, Kellyn) had good group chemistry and I liked that the sisters looked out for each other. I get that the whole point was ZIVA HAS ANXIETY but at the same time, was she really so inwardly focused that she never considered how Temra deserved a life of her own? Ziva was so focused on providing for them that she kind of forgot that she had another human being on hand!
That said though, I liked seeing Ziva and Kellyn come out of their shells. They did have good chemistry but again Ziva was so quick to overreact to everything that it was frustrating to read. Even more frustrating for her, I’m sure. I liked Temra and Petrik, who would put the feisty one and the scholar together? Yeah she was harsh but I really don’t think Temra owed anyone an apology for wanting her own life and sense of safety and she’s a wonderfully fierce character. By far my favorite.
Overall, this is a fast read with a fun plot and just barely enough world building to carry the story. It comes with an author interview at the end where Levenseller says her goal is to not bore readers with extra world content, like she writes the story then fills in the bare necessity of details. I liked it but wanted more from both the world and the magic.
An entertaining story for sure and I’ll probably read the second one…because cliffhanger. I would recommend this as well as her other books (but not Shadows Between Us) for YA fantasy readers but honestly don’t think Levenseller works for most adult fantasy fans.