“She was hailed as a saint and feared even more like an unnatural girl.”
What if you were the only child born to a brutal warlord and it was your misfortune to be female? The only choices would be submission and misery or standing strong despite the strikes against you. The heroine of Revena’s Revenge chooses the latter.
In this dark fantasy novel by Vanessa Victoria Kilmer, Revena is the sole child of the Marcher Lord and his misused wife Aenor. Not only is Revena reviled because she is female, but she is also a pariah because of her innate magical abilities and unusual appearance.
Being born into such an unfortunate life would break a less resilient soul, but Revena stands strong despite her father’s abuse and the disapproving rumors spread even by the household’s servants. To make matters worse, on her father’s return home, he announces that he has arranged a marriage for her. To her dismay, Revena learns that her proposed husband’s brutality rivals even her father’s.
I was rooting for Revena from the first page. Her father is an abusive misogynist, raping Revena’s broken mother every time he returns home. Aenor endures a miscarriage every year and escapes into a drug-induced haze to endure her hopeless existence.
The strong-willed heroine is my favorite part of this powerful story. How could she not be? Unlike her sadistic father, she is compassionate. Revena is not afraid of hard work. She treats the servants as her equals, assisting them in making the house ready for her father. She stands her ground, never giving up despite the deplorable ways in which she is treated.
I appreciate the brevity of the book’s chapters. This feature makes it easy to follow along with the story and to return to a previous chapter to clarify points. The story is compelling and draws the reader into Revena’s world. It is written in plain English without any flowery prose, which befits the brutal realities of Revena’s life.
Because of violent scenes including sexual assault, this book is suited to adult audiences only. Although these scenarios are described realistically, they are not overly graphic. I appreciate the author’s unflinching commitment to depicting the bleak realities of life in the Dark Ages for the underclasses and for women of all stations.
I also appreciate the fact that the female characters are the focus of the tale. Stories set in medieval times often romanticize male protagonists and prettify the conditions in which people lived. Ms. Kilmer does neither.
Revena’s Revenge is not a pretty love story, and I praise it for stepping outside the bounds. Those desiring a pretty love story should seek another book. Those desiring reality and a tough heroine who defies the odds against her will appreciate Revena’s Revenge as I did.
Five out of five stars
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