I am terrible when it comes to book competitions, I’ll pretty much enter anything if there’s a book to be won. Enter Scholastic’s competition for Song of Sorrow.
I really loved reading Melinda Salisbury’s first series of books ‘The Sin Eaters Daughter’ – although saying that I still haven’t read the final book ‘The Scarecrow Queen’. And when I won Song of Sorrow I knew it was time to pick up the first in the series: ‘State of Sorrow’ and get my reading on.
‘By day, Sorrow governs the Court of Tears, covering for her grief-maddened father, who has turned their once celebrated land into a living monument for the brother who died before she was born.
By night, she seeks solace in the arms of the boy she’s loved since childhood. But one ghost won’t stop haunting her, and when enemies old and new close ranks against her, Sorrow must decide how far she’s willing to go to win…’ – Goodreads
“Sorrow, for that is all she brings us.”
Don’t judge State of Sorrow by it’s first chapter. I found the first few chapters a bit difficult to get through. The world building comes thick and fast in the first few chapters and it’s a lot to take in. It almost feels like just like a big information drop, but definitely sets the scene up. Country names are similar and takes a while to remember which is which, and can get confusing, but once you’ve got the hang of them and read through the world setting the story gets going and becomes more enjoyable.
Not every hero and main character are flawless, and that’s what Salisbury has given us with Sorrow. Sorrow is a 18yr old who just wants to be free to live and free from responsibility, instead she’s the daughter of the Chancellor of Rhannon. A Chancellor who’s in the midst of a grief fuelled drug addiction, throwing his country into a eternal state of mourning. No Art, no Music and no smiling. Sorrow has been sequestered in the palace, growing up in a land of grey but dreaming of colours.
Whilst Sorrow, comes across as unpleasant and naive at times, you can’t help but root for her. She truly cares for her country and for her friendships, and when things go wrong, she makes mistakes. And when things get worse you hurt along with her.
“Behold my redemption arc.”
Sorrow has a lot of hard and difficult relationships, both as love interests and friendships. But most of her difficulty with them is brought on by her own decisions. Most of the relationship conflicts throughout State of Sorrow begin with Sorrow withholding information and a lack of communication. Some down to her mistrust in others, and some due to her naivety – but then she’s 18yrs old, you can’t expect too much. It almost amounts to the classic ‘Poor communication kills’ trope, and could have been avoided if Sorrow had shared her thoughts and feelings more openly.
I love the realisation that of why Sorrow was always running to and pining after Rasmus. But I would’ve loved more emotional exploration of this, delving into Sorrow’s sense of betrayal. He knew all along and let it happen and his actions felt selfish to me. I found Sorrow accepted it too easily for me to feel comfortable trusting him again.
I did however, really enjoy Luvian and Sorrows’ banter, but I felt his character introduction came out of nowhere, and a bit abrupt. Jumping from an unknown character to close friend within a few chapters. Sorrow and Luvian’s relationship felt a little forced to begin with but I am so there for them now.
After his abrupt intro, I slowly started falling in love with Luvian and his quippy dialogue. I was left wanting so much more from him. His personality only truly started showing through towards the end of State of Sorrow.
“Save your pity for Mael. For he only has me.”
Although I guessed Sorrow’s major reveal at the start of the book, I was intrigued enough throughout to continue reading to find out if my guess was correct. I love the political background that was built throughout Sorrow’s world. Whilst the start of the book was a little info-dumpy, the rest of the novel was a excellent slow burn. I cannot wait to begin reading Song of Sorrow.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. Once you get past the info heavy start this book grows into a complex and satisfying read with capturing your attention and leaves you craving the next in the series.
State of Sorrow is fantastic book as a break away from the heavy fantasy books. It has fantasy elements but its the political intrigue that’s really front and centre in this book. The characters are realistic, maddening and emotional wrecks, but that’s what you get with teenagers running a kingdom. I’m looking forward to starting the next instalment and hopefully seeing more of Luvian.