The spirits of the dead do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as ravenous, hungry spirits. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who whisper about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being whose extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, Artemisia discovers that facing this hidden evil might require her to betray everything she believes—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.
This book is amazing. From the beginning we are completely drawn in and immersed in a high stakes world. Artemisia is different from most of the Gray sisters who work with the dead; she finds it peaceful and feels as if she doesn’t bother anyone there. It’s interesting where Artemisia sees herself and where others want her, and how despite knowing what she doesn’t want, she knows she has to protect people, and the only way she can consider doing that is to go against what she was taught as a Gray sister. I love the strong female protagonists in this novel, and that most aren’t what you would expect. I love the real tribulations and fears that are shown and worked through because even though you’re in a fantasy world, there is always something that people fear or makes them uncomfortable. There were little dips and nods that reminded me a bit of Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (last book in The Shadow and Bone trilogy).
I finished this book two days ago and while I did start this review yesterday, I needed time to put the finishing thoughts in order. This book truly touched me. I love how death was considered a part of life, and how no matter whether you want or don’t want something, sometimes the best course of action, or what makes you the best candidate to do something, is because of what you DON’T want to get out of things; that sometimes what is necessary and what you want won’t align, but it still has to be done. I would highly recommend this book, as well as the other two Rogerson books I’ve read, An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. I feel as if I lost something great by finishing this book, and it will take something truly amazing to be able to pick up from here.
Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯