Tethered Spirits by T.A. Hernandez (Curse of Shavhalla; 1)

Book Blurb:

A man with an unknown past

For years, Amar has traveled the Kavoran empire, seeking a way to recover his lost memories and end the curse that plagues him. With support from loyal friends, Amar may finally be on the verge of finding answers, but to do so, he’ll need to enlist the help of an unexpected guide.

A girl afraid of her own powers

Kesari is a Tarja, granted magical abilities through her Bond with a spirit named Lucian. Haunted by past mistakes that have left her desperate to sever her Bond, Kesari has her own reasons for agreeing to help Amar. But in doing so, she may finally have to face the fears she’s carried ever since leaving home.

A woman on a vital mission

Meanwhile, a young refugee named Aleida is in hot pursuit, hoping the secret behind Amar’s curse can save her brother from a fatal illness. With so much at stake and little left to lose, Aleida will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

And when their paths collide, all three are set on a journey to unravel a mystery far deeper than they ever suspected. 

I received this book for free from the author. All comments and opinions are entirely my own, this review is voluntary.

Rayleigh’s Review:

A man that can’t die, a girl who hates her powers, a white dragon, and a girl who will do anything to save her brother, all collide into a battle of knowledge and skill. The time is ticking and they have a lot of ground to cover.

Tethered Spirits, book one in the Curse of Shavhalla series, is a thorough epic fantasy! The world is so enriched and I have absolutely no complaints about how in-depth we go to learn the different cultures and races within this world. The kingdoms are so unique and the characters were so vibrant in their own personalities that it was easy to feel this book come to life.

The reason that I give this book 3.5 stars (4 on sites that don’t accept halves) is because I felt like I knew too much of the story as I was reading and therefore felt a lack of suspense. The points of view that we alternate to and from are the protagonists and antagonists, so many of the things that should have been exciting surprises were not surprises at all because I knew where the antagonist was and what was happening on their end too. It made the story feel slow–even though it definitely was not–because I didn’t have suspense or surprises exciting me around every turn. I knew all the cards that both sides were playing from so I was able to speculate the ending very early on (like, by 30%). And though the technicalities were a little different than my speculations, I wasn’t necessarily wrong.

The other reason is that there was no romance that drove the story forward. I don’t think I’ve ever realized how much romantic tension plays on suspense in books until I encountered this one without it. Don’t get me wrong, I like that there is a friend group that didn’t get all romance-y, but without the lack of suspense in the overall story, I found myself searching for the romantic tension between the characters to fill that need, and when no one blushed or started hitting on each other, it almost felt flat. Had the suspense been stronger in the overall story, I doubt this would’ve felt awkward at all because the characters had great chemistry with each other as friends, but without the suspense in the story, I wish I would’ve had some characters to ship or a romance to root for.

Because of this, it’s difficult for me to cultivate an opinion because I love the depth of the world, I adored all of the characters, and the story is actually very well-plotted and interesting. I just wish that I hadn’t known so much about what was happening at the moment, on both sides, so the surprises and twists would have been exciting. I’m definitely committed to Amar’s, Kesari’s, and Aleida’s stories though and I will certainly be reading book two.

Trigger warnings/content guide: Mentions of cutting/suicidal thoughts | High action/gore content | LBQT+ character | Dark magic | Some spooks | little to no cursing


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