Book review: Radiance (Wraith Kings 01) by Grace Draven

Synopsis (from Goodreads):


Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.


Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

My impressions:

Yes, my dears, another romance book, this time a fantasy one -it  seems I am on a romance roll this month! 🙂

This one wasn’t that bad. The beginning was actually quite good. I suppose the premise is  the biggest asset of Radiance; its first half can be called ‘the beast and the beast’ and I love such twists of popular tropes. For Kai, the ancient race of humanoid monsters, Ildiko, a human niece of the Gauri king, is as ugly as a pink, soft-shelled mollusk used by them for fabric dyes. For humans Brishen, the minor Kai prince, is as hideous as a dead eel and very dangerous to boot. Still Brishen and Ildiko are forced to marry because it is in the best interest of their respective kingdoms. Fortunately they are intelligent enough to know that beauty is in the eye of beholder and appearances can be deceptive. In other words they give each other the benefit of the doubt and discover, with a great sense of humour, that a person’s character is more important than the looks – well done, Ms Draven, very well done indeed! If only you continued with that line of thinking I would have nothing to criticize at all!

Unfortunately soon enough Kai the aliens turned into just nocturnal humans with very sharp teeth and black claws instead of nails (or, alternatively, humans proved to be bloodthirsty monsters with pinkish skin and horse-like teeth) and I admit the whole premise stopped being so original and breathtaking for me. The second part of the book you could actually call ‘the beauty and the beauty’ *groan* –  definitely not my cup of tea. Or coffee. I waited in vain for some strange ‘otherness’ occurring from time to time, like weird mating rituals or fancy martial arts. Instead all I got were almost raw dishes (not a big deal, humans eat them too) and owlish, lamp-like eyes. I admit it seemed a bit tame after that promising beginning but still I kept reading till the very end of the book.

One more remark concerning the main baddie, Secmis. She is the mommy dearest of Brishen and a mother-in-law you would willingly murder and dance the cancan on her grave, preferably during the funeral. She was delightfully cruel at first but a bit underdeveloped and taking into account her fate (not spoiling you) we won’t see any development any time soon. Eh life. Pity.

Final verdict:

I might be tempted by the next part, Eidolon. When it comes to fantasy romance consider it the highest praise. ;p

Other novels by Grace Draven reviewed on this blog:

Master of Crows (Master of Crows 01)

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5 Responses to Book review: Radiance (Wraith Kings 01) by Grace Draven

  1. blodeuedd says:

    Omg, you sort of liked it

  2. heidenkind says:

    ” I waited in vain for some strange ‘otherness’ occurring from time to time, like weird mating rituals or fancy martial arts.” lol I think you’ve been reading a little too much UF 😉

  3. Carole Rae says:

    Hahahaha. I may have to give up and read this.

    SIGHS. Hate you and B.

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