TORN, by Rowenna Miller, Orbit Books/Hachette Book Group


TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

A maker of charms through sewing… a magical system unique and laid out perfectly. I don’t believe I’ve seen this magical system used before which made the reading intriguing and original for me.  I was immediately drawn in based on the premise alone.

The plot starts off a bit slow as many fantasy books do, but zoom! It took off and I held on tight!  Many plot twists and turns kept me invested in the story and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.  Even the sub-plot of rebellion was fascinating and blended well into the main plot without derailing or taking it over.

Characters in this book are fleshed out and develop steadily through each plot moment.  The main character is charming, sweet, strong and you want to see her succeed by the end of the book.  Yes, there’s a bit of romance… It’s tolerable and works to continue tension and move the plot forward.  Secondary characters are strong and important to the story, pushing the Protagonist along toward reaching her goals.

The world-building is interesting in this book.  There’s a Victorian feel and frankly, one that has been done before.  I think this is the author’s weak point and her struggles are apparent in how she creates the backdrop for what’s happening to her Protagonist.  The city scenes are limited/fragmented and don’t connect well to give you a larger image of what the city is like.  I think she had difficulty creating a fantastical world, not so much a world for her characters.  The world she did place her characters was just not fantastical enough for me to call it “Fantasy.” It read more as a historical fiction piece with magical elements.

However, with that said, this book still is well-written, the pace moves forward at a steady rate transitioning from one plot point to the next.  There’s plenty of political and economical overtures and the standard “kill the Royals” side story… There’s even kidnapping and blackmail.  I believe this book is the first of a series, so we shall see where the author goes with her concept.  I truly hope she succeeds, because  what makes this book different from all the rest is the premise and magic structure.  The other things can be improved upon as the series progresses so I do have high hopes for the series and I recommend you give it a try and see what you think for yourself.

I gave this book:


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