A really brilliant dark fantasy read. One of my favorite aspects was the little worldbuilding details, from customs to greetings to meals. You really got the sense that this was a real place. It felt lived in and alive.
The writing is gorgeous. Richly textured, with lots of little details that help draw readers in. Description, action, dialogue, all very well done. (The description is a particular strength). The training scenes were especially absorbing and horrifying, in a good way. I think Medlar’s first big punishment might legit give me nightmares. It’s described so viscerally I could almost feel it.
I wouldn’t call this a character-centered book, but I liked the characters a great deal. They’re very flawed and grey, and they have distinctive, strong voices.
The sirens are terrifically compelling enemies. Seductive, fascinating. I wanted to learn more about them throughout the book, and was glad when I got to.
My only critique is that occasionally things feel a tiny bit info-dumpy, because this book is just so big. There’s so much information and so many ideas packed in! But that’s a minor thing. Overall, a brilliant start to a new series. Can’t wait for more.