It all began with one stolen kiss…
10,000 years ago, deep in Regia’s forests, the Dryads lived hidden and aloof. Determined to serve the Heart of the World, and keep it secret. Shi was chosen at birth to become a Verdant, one of the twenty princesses to sacrifice to the flame. Plagued by curiosity, one night Shi breaks the rules. A Verdant must always remain pure and innocent and never venture out beyond the boundary.
A month after taking the throne, King Leramiun grows restless confined to the castle by his new responsibilities. After receiving reports about a mass grave in the forests, Leramiun makes a rash decision to investigate by himself. Instead of finding death, he finds Shi, a goddess of life.
One stolen kiss set in motion the destruction of an entire race.
*26k word novella
Blurb and cover from Goodreads
5 out of 5 stars
This prequel novella takes us through the origin story for Shi, Forest’s adoptive mother, including the first great love of King Leramiun and the story of how the Dryads went extinct. I came in knowing that (Shi is a ghost and the Dryads are extinct, after all), but forgot all the dryads died and that was a good kick in the feels.
This story is what I like to call “pack a punch.” There’s not a lot of space, but there are plenty of layers and feelings. Yes, feelings. Oh so many feelings. This book made me laugh, had me on the edge of my seat, then crushed me as expected. It was awesome.
Shi is an interesting paradox. Despite being deeply innocent, she knows everything about a person the instant she touches them. She reminds me of that phrase “half ancient, half child.”
Leramiun grows remarkably through his relationship with Shi. They were so adorable together and then everything got ruined and now they’re both dead and it’s horrible. Geez, there were a lot of feelings here.
The subplot with Helena had me furious for the first three quarters of the book, I won’t lie. The whole “she’s a concubine, so what does she matter” mentality got old a long time ago. And then is took a turn and YEEEEESSSSSS! Honestly, Helena’s story was probably my favorite part. I mean…the redemption and recognition of her value as a person…respecting her despite her former profession…it was so freaking beautiful.
It’s good to be back in the land of Regia and I’m looking forward to the spinoff series coming this fall! This series is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend.