Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross had been making waves in the online book community, but sadly, it didn't quite live up to the colossal hype. Penned by Rebecca Ross, this epistolary historical fantasy started with promise but ultimately left me feeling less than thrilled.
About 'Divine Rivals'
Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: Letters of Enchantment #1
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Fantasy Romance, Young Adult
Page Number: 368 pages
Audible Listening Time: 10 hours 50 mins
Goodreads Rating: 4.29/5
My Rating: 2/5
The story revolves around Iris, a young journalist at the 'Oath Gazette,' set in a war-torn land. Amidst the backdrop of reawakening gods and an ongoing war, Iris's primary concern is keeping her family together. Her mother is struggling with addiction, and her brother remains missing on the front lines. Her beacon of hope lies in securing promotion as a columnist at the 'Oath Gazette.'
Iris's brother, Forrest, had promised to keep in touch after leaving to fight for the goddess Enva in the war against Darce. However, he fails to keep that promise. To ease her worries, Iris writes heartfelt letters to her brother, sliding them beneath her wardrobe door, only to later discover that they mysteriously end up in the hands of Roman Kitt, her enigmatic and seemingly cold-hearted rival at the newspaper.
Initially, I found Iris as the main character intriguing. Her relationship with her brother held promise, and her unwavering determination to secure the promotion at the gazette showcased her resilience. However, as the story unfolded, my interest waned, particularly in her interactions with Roman, the central love interest.
I must admit, I strongly disliked Roman, especially in the initial 30% of the book. While his character does see some redemption in the latter half, it wasn't enough to fully salvage the story for me. My lack of investment in Roman and his character arc persisted throughout the book.
One aspect I'd like to commend is the worldbuilding. Rebecca Ross succeeds in creating an enchanting atmosphere that provides a sense of comfort, making it an ideal read for a cozy night under a blanket with a cup of tea.
However, I can't help but withhold glowing praise due to one significant issue—the misleading comparison of this book to "Shadow and Bone". Divine Rivals bears little resemblance to that beloved series, and such comparisons only set up unrealistic expectations. Some have compared it to "Fourth Wing". This comparison is even more far-fetched than the comparison with “Shadow and Bone".
The fantasy elements in Divine Rivals are disappointingly sparse. If one were to remove the dragons and gods, replacing them with actual war and weaponry, the plot would remain largely unchanged. This lack of robust fantasy elements contributes to the book's overall underwhelming nature.
The most significant flaw lies in the pacing of the story, which tends to drag on. The majority of the book consists of letters exchanged between Iris and Roman, and while these letters contribute to worldbuilding, they eventually become tedious.
In the realm of fantasy romance, the chemistry between the central couple is pivotal, and unfortunately, Iris and Roman lack any discernible chemistry. In conclusion, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book to most readers. However, it may find favor among fans of the dark academia genre, though it did not resonate with me.
“I don't think you realize how strong you are, because sometimes strength isn't swords and steel and fire, as we are so often made to believe. Sometimes it's found in quiet, gentle places.”
“In the meantime, I hope you will find your place, wherever you are. Even in the silence, I hope you will find the words you need to share.”
“I love the words I write until I soon realize how much I hate them as if I am destined to always be at war within myself.”
“But I realize that people are just people, and they carry their own set of fears, dreams, desires, pains, and mistakes. I can’t expect someone else to make me feel complete; I must find it on my own.”
“Don’t leave,” he whispered, and his hand flailed, reaching for her. “You and I … we need to stay together. We’re better this way.”
When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever.
After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.
To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish—into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.
Shadow and Bone meets Lore in Rebecca Ross's Divine Rivals, an epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel filled with hope and heartbreak, and the unparalleled power of love.
Buy 'Divine Rivals'