Lady Sophia Kendall is days away from coming into her power. As a noble born woman, and thirty-second in line for the throne, Sophia is a powerful commodity and will become even more of one if her magical abilities are strong. Before Sophia can be carefully initiated as a royal witch, Sophia is forced to flee the city with Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, who happens to be accompanying her in the city when the capital is attacked. Suddenly Sophia finds herself an unbound witch, more powerful than she ever imagined herself to be, and also more dangerous. One hasty wedding later, Sophia learns a lot about why witches are bound so quickly, but this knowledge might come at a price.
The Shattered Court was a really interesting fantasy romance. When I picked it up I was expected a contained romance with light fantasy elements; instead I was introduced to a fascinating political landscape and a hasty romance with the potential for more, and I very much want more.
The world of The Shattered Court involves magic. However, magical abilities rest in the hands of few and the woman that possess true power are guarded and controlled. Sophia is one of those young women. As a distant relation to the royal family, Sophia’s bloodlines are prized, and if her magical abilities are strong she will be considered a great prize on the marriage market. Sophia, of course, will have no choice in her marriage, as it will be determined based on its usefulness to the monarch. Sophia is not pleased and does feel the restriction of her position, yet she is well aware that there are no other options for her. Fate changes what’s in store for Sophia when she manifests her powers away from the careful control of the crown. As a result, Sophia is much stronger than anticipated and her power cannot be controlled and bound to the service of the crown or her husband, an unprecedented event that does not please the new queen or the head of the religious order.
To be dealt with, Sophia is quickly married off to her protector Cameron, who also played a significant part in why Sophia’s powers cannot be bound (apparently this is why sex before marriage is frowned upon for royal witches). Cameron isn’t exactly thrilled about the fact that he and Sophia must be married, but he’s well aware that he is also responsible for Sophia’s lack of binding. However, the pair soon discover that their unusual circumstances are much more dangerous than they had anticipated, and Sophia’s life just might be in danger.
The romance set up felt very much like a historical romance, which is likely why I liked the romance element so much. You can’t go wrong with the traditional compromised trope. What I was surprised about the romance was that it didn’t feel resolved by the end. Initially I thought that The Shattered Court marked the start of a series that would focus on different characters in each book; it’s a common concept in the romance genre. However, with the way The Shattered Court ended I’m left feeling that the author is going to take this in a different direction. There is definitely room for more in Sophia and Cameron’s relationship and I, for one, can’t wait to read more. At this point, Sophia and Cameron have an attraction for one another, but I think there’s room for more growth and more angst – a very good thing.
Aside from the great, hasty, arranged romance, the world that was introduced in The Shattered Court was fascinating. The idea that women are forced to cede their abilities to both the Goddess, their husband and the crown without really knowing what they are giving up is not exactly a pretty picture, but it is compelling. The fact that Sophia is a departure from the status quo ramps up the tension in The Shattered Court. Considering the ending of The Shattered Court, I can only assume that Sophia is going to learn a lot more about what she can do as an unbound witch as well as why witches have been weakening in power over the decades. Methinks someone has been hiding some valuable information from the masses.
The Shattered Court was a compelling read because of both its romance as well as its fantasy elements. While I was hesitant about the idea of marriage and magic being intertwined, I really enjoyed how the author brought these institutions together and created something thought provoking. There is no doubt that I will be back for book two.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels trilogy is another fantasy that plays with the concept of magic and sex. It’s disturbing and compelling and all around great fantasy. While The Black Jewels is certainly darker in tone, I think anyone interested in the world that Scott has created will also appreciate Bishop’s trilogy.
I will admit that I had my own issues with C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of it when reading The Shattered Court. Arranged marriages, politics, and magic, there’s a lot to like in The Winter King and I think fantasy romance fans will appreciate the world and the relationship.
Lastly, Dennis Jones’ The Stone and the Maiden will appeal to fans of the political maneuverings of The Shattered Court. The set up and the romance is rather similar to The Shattered Court, but the magic system is even more detailed.