– Rebecca Ross –
Published 4 April 2023
Divine Rivals is as powerful and evocative as it is unique.
I’ve been a fan of Rebecca Ross since reading The Queen’s Rising. Divine Rivals is a very different sort of fantasy novel but Ross’s powerful writing is consistent.
Divine Rivals draws upon a time of world war for its setting. It feels quite historical, but added to that are the gods and mythology that makes this story unique. The war being fought is over two gods and their power to compel followers to the front lines. Winnow is a journalist. Forced to leave school and work since her brother followed Enva’s call to war and her mother found solace in a bottle. Winnow hopes to win a column spot, but it seems all but given to her rival, aristocratic and snobby Roman Kit. When Winnow’s letters – written to her brother – magically find their way into the hands of another, Winnow seems to have finally found a friend and confidant. Little does she know it is her sworn rival, Roman who receives her letters and starts to write back. As Winnow tries to find her brother, her journey takes her to the front lines of the war.
Roman and Winnow’s romance is very reminiscent of a decades-old love story. Letters written on a typewriter, the harsh background of war and a rush to savour any moments when danger and death loom. I do love a good enemies-to-lovers romance and this one has all the best features, including Winnie’s general dislike for Roman while he has always liked and admired her.
The fantasy, aside from the magically transporting letters, sits just in the background of the story. I’m guessing we’ll see more of the gods and myths in the sequel. The war, becomes more central to the story in the second half of the book, as Winnow becomes a war correspondent and works in a makeshift hospital, witnessing the injuries and destruction of war up close.
I was warned about the ending. It’s mentioned in most reviews and here I am warning you. Divine Rivals has one heck of a tragic, twisting ending. I struggled to read it. The only comfort is there will be a sequel, though I’m not sure I am prepared for the trauma involved. Despite the ending, though, there are some happy moments to enjoy. Beautiful, romantic, uplifting moments.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: War, romance, letters, journalism, brothers, family, loss, grief.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Reference to alcohol use to extremes, death of a parent. Severe war injuries and death described in detail. Implied sex scene with some details.
Published: 4 April 2023 by Wednesday Books
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 368 pages.