Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
As a Shadowheart, other people's pain is Vylaena Azrel’s constant companion. It's a Curse set upon her by Ikna, the Goddess of Midnight, one that she was determined to be free of. Living alone and away from others in the haunted Elderwood, the arrival of a mysterious solicitor at her doorstep ends her solitude, forcing her to confront and be involved with Cyair's matters of state by being a bodyguard for a foreign ambassador, Prince Thyrian of Galiff. The responsibility proves more difficult than she expected with unexplained disappearances around the kingdom, the threat of war, and her dark past catching up to her. Ether-Touched is the first installment in The Breaking Stone Trilogy by L. M. Coulson.
The world-building of Ether-Touched is fascinating and one that fantasy fans will love: the potent potential of ether for both good and evil, abstruse goddesses and their warnings, the tension of noble politics and war, and much more. The complexity of the characters regardless of the size of their role in the story is another strength of Ether-Touched. Their wants and needs, goals and motivations, successes and failures, including their breaking points, add more depth to a well-developed plot. Other than the deadly and enigmatic Vylaena Azrel, librarian Atremidora Flinx is a determined and intelligent protagonist who captured my attention as soon as she appeared. The fight scenes are suspenseful and exciting; Vylaena and Thyrian's combined efforts to take down a wight－a creature that was once human－is one of my favorites. With its engaging narrative, L. M. Coulson's debut in The Breaking Stone Trilogy is a riveting sword and sorcery fantasy with trials and triumphs that are sure to delight fans of the genre.