A slow burn you should rush to read!
Frankie Diane Mallis wastes zero time throwing you into the deep end with Daughter of the Drowned Empire. Things genuinely hit the fan within the first chapter, and I loved it right off the bat. This book was an absolute feast of political intrigue and slow-burn romance and I’m ecstatic that I’ve still got a beefy series to work through.
“You choose. You can let what the others think about you be right, you can let your guilt and shame hold you down, or you can decide your fate, assert the strength you do have, become stronger than ever before. But you have to claim it. And when you do, you can be freer than a seraphim. Stronger than a gryphon. No ropes can hold you. No cage can trap you.”
All Lumerian citizens have their magic bound at birth until they turn nineteen and pledge themselves to one of the two university paths: mage or soturion (a magic-fueled warrior). The only catch is if when unbound your magic turns out to be one of the three forbidden kinds you’ll be executed (Whomp whomp). As an heir to power, Lyr should be living an easy life of political comfort. Instead, she’s fighting every day to keep her family safe. Her two older sisters both manifested forbidden magic that left them crippled by pain and madness. Though they managed to conceal their state, Lyr does everything she can to tend to her sisters while also tending to the public’s perception of her family. If anyone were to discover the truth they’d lose a lot more than just their political standing.
It cannot be undersold how skilled Mallis is when it comes to world-building. This series already has a richly built-out social landscape and a society steeped in so much history that everything is dripping in context. That being said, fear not the quicksand that is overly detailed exposition. Mallis takes a no-nonsense approach providing readers with several appendices to define terms and flesh out meaning if you’ve missed a pesky context clue along the way. I’ll admit that I did seriously question my ability to read for a hot second there before I discovered those blessed appendices.
I love how beautifully complex Lyr is. You’re able to see so much juxtaposition between who she presents to the public, who she thought she’d be, and now who she needs to be to survive. Her struggle with holding all these pieces of herself is so engaging. I’m eager to see how this character will be able to grow and change throughout this series. That was the overarching theme for my experience of this book: I’m so excited to see where she takes this (give or take a few ‘Oh my gosh’s). There are so many elements that scream of some absolutely sick sequel potential. Also just a general public service announcement that Rhyan is catnip for anyone who loves a gorgeous, protective love interest who respects the hell out the FMC.
“Because three years later, I still feel the taste of your lips on mine. Because I can’t forget you, the way your body felt against mine, the way your scent wrapped around me. Because I think about that kiss all the time. Because I dream about you at night. Because, if I kiss you now, if I get one more taste, you’ll consume me.”
I’m not going to tell you that Frankie Diane Mallis has great things coming, though she definitely does. She’s already done great things. Face meltingly awesome, geek out, and try to convince the cashier to read it level great things. The Drowned Empire is going to be a fantasy series for the ages and everyone should be told. Tell your friends. Tell your grandparents. Circle back, and really double down with that cashier until they listen or you are forcibly removed from the store. Anyway, I’m just gushing now so I’ll wrap up. I loved this book and fully intend to wallow in this series until it’s a personality trait.
Gabi grew up moving around the world with her family, making books in English a bit of a luxury that had to be rationed. Nowadays she lives in East London, where books can be read as voraciously as she likes. Fantasy books will forever be her first love, and she’s always looking for the next series to consume both of her brain cells. Her days generally consist of working as a software developer, squeezing in a chapter at her desk, and pining after the Picadilly Waterstones.