Innocence Lost is book 1 in the Ghostspeaker Chronicles series by Patty Jansen
Here is a sample:
An unfamiliar coat hung on the stand. A man’s coat. Black. A very finely-made one with a very small pin on the coat’s collar: the rooster, the symbol of the Carmine House.
What in all of heaven’s name would Father have to say to the royal family?
In the stairwell, on the landing halfway between the ground floor and the second floor, was a little door that led into a low-ceilinged storeroom that had been built between the floors. The servants used this to store items of furniture that they didn’t use anymore, or spare plates or tableware that didn’t fit in the cupboards. This room was directly above Father’s office. Johanna paused at the stairs, looking carefully if anyone could see her. Then she opened the door quietly, went in and shut it again so that it became dark and stuffy inside. In the little cupboard-like space, she wriggled off her shoes and carried them in her hand while she very slowly climbed up the couple of steps to the room. The steps were odd, at an angle, and uneven. They were made of rough wood that creaked badly unless you were very careful and very slow.
The storeroom was barely tall enough for her to stand in. Father would have to bend his head to avoid hitting it on the ceiling beams. There was a window in the far wall. Half of it vanished below the floor and the bottom part of it was the window in Father’s study below. The light that shone through silvered items of furniture covered with sheets and various boxes and crates. One of them had Estlander writing on it. It had belonged to Johanna’s mother, Lady Sara Aroden, a minor duchess of the Estlander court.
The sound of father’s voice drifted up through the floorboards. Johanna sank to her knees, trying to make not the slightest of sounds, and put her ear to the floor. It was very dusty.
Father was speaking. “. . . We can provide loans, certainly. But I don’t know that we have the capacity to do what you ask.”
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What a ride! This book started off with a feisty heroine who doesn’t quite fit in. It expands to include magic, mystery, religion and politics. As many of these types of stories do, it was building towards a conflict between love and duty. Between freedom and responsibility. And then everything exploded. Literally. And the story went in directions I never anticipated.
Content-wise there is some violence and an explicit sex scene, although there is absolutely nothing sensual about it. It is probably the most painfully awkward sex scene I’ve ever read – and intentionally so. It serves a very important purpose to the plot and is not gratuitous.
This is the first book in a series and as such there is a lot of world building and character development in this book. It is full of drama and action, but it is not until the end that the picture that is being build really becomes clear and the story being told is quite different from what I anticipated from the beginning. There are a LOT of threads started and hanging at the end of this book – some interesting, some uncomfortable.
Copy of the review from Amazon: https://amazon.com/product-reviews/1925841642
The story and world that this author created are more than complete. Reading this story truly transports you to a new world of magic and pageantry of a commoner being invited into the life of a royal. Toward the end of the book, we see such a stark contrast with Johanna in the world that has befallen her. Some plot points had the air of predictability, but were done so well that I didn’t care. So very entertaining, with enough twists to keep me glued.
Yes, the book merely stops mid-story. But the first “half” of this story does entice me to look into the next one. Unlike others who have commented, though, I believe the plot line of this book WAS resolved (i.e. would she marry, and if so, who?) but the hook into the next book did leave so many other threads dangling… Loeise’s affliction, Roald’s “condition”, Father’s life?? And the Bandits in the last few pages were abrupt.
Yes, there was a graphic scene. It was done as tastefully, artfully and skillfully as anything I could have expected for a main character in her position. I rarely ever advocate for describing “the act”, as I usually find it gratuitous and put in just for the “smut appeal” or sales factor. In this book, I wholeheartedly reverse that stance and say that it was perfectly placed and well said, fitting the character, situation and plot.
As such, this book is adult-only. It is a preview. It exists to get you into this amazing new world… And yet, knowing all that, still 100% worth the read.
Copy of review from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1XXC7TQMB98HR/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00J491ERQ