Hope & Red by Jon Skovron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bleak Hope is named after her village that was annihilated because of the Empire's biomancers. A legendary Vinchen warrior trains Hope in the Vinchen ways despite it being illegal to do so because she is a female. Rixdenteron is the son of a painter from a rich family and a male whore. He finds himself homeless when his parents die. He's taken in by a dangerous woman and renamed Red. Hope and Red come together to get vengeance on a ganglord and biomancers, but most specifically the biomancer who slaughtered Hope's village.
First I want to say I love warrior women. Perhaps it was because I watched a lot of Xena Warrior Princess as a child and she was the embodiment of a warrior. She battled gods and men alike and beat them down. That was absolutely what drew me to this book because who doesn't love a good warrior woman.
Hope and Red feels very much like a young adult novel. All the standard tropes apply. Special orphans and chance meetings with great people who almost inexplicably care for and train these youths. The YA fantasy mold is not broken or even bent here. So imagine the standard YA fantasy heroes and you have Hope and Red.
The chapters with Red were challenging for me from the beginning because of the massive amounts of slang used. Leaky, tom, mollie, slice, old pot, leeward, wag, and many other slang terms are squished into the lines in Red's chapters. There is a glossary, but after a little while it's unnecessary. That being said I wasn't overly fond of their slang.
The biomancers did present themselves as something unique from the rest of the story. These people use a mixture of magic and science to create living things from living things. Unfortunately rather than using criminals to further their research they use towns and villages for their experiments which is the crux of Hope's revenge tale. The biomancers are basically mad scientists that feel as if nothing is more important than their research. They seem to have the Emperor's permission to use seemingly whoever they wish to make new weapons to protect the Empire.
All in all Hope and Red was just an average YA fantasy book.
3 out of 5 stars
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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