*I got this copy in exchange for an honest review*
What was it about?
Princess Kalista has known her role from birth. She’s spent her entire life preparing to be the socialite wife of a prince from a peaceful kingdom. But on her big day, she is shocked when she is instead forced to marry the warrior prince of a cursed land, who is as cold as the wintry kingdom he’ll one day rule.
Carson has a throne no princess wants to share with him. An immortal beast ravages their land, and he’ll do anything to stop it, even marry a complete stranger on the day she was supposed to wed her betrothed. Let her hate him for it, but Kalista is his only hope for peace.
Kalista knows she’s just a pawn on the chessboard of politics, but now she’s expected to kill an unstoppable creature because of some legend about her bloodline that Carson believes as truth. He trains her how to fight, and when lessons in swordplay lead to lessons in love, her destiny puts more than just her life at risk.
How far is she willing to go to save the prince she never wanted…but can’t imagine living without? (goodreads)
Book: Live like Legends | Author: Kate Cornell | Publisher: Entangled Teen | Published: 01.06.2020 | Pages: 400 | Genre: YA fantasy, romance | TW: blood, death, loss of loved one, sex with questional consent
What did I think?
*Deep sigh* I think I was fooled by the synopsis. I was so excited to fall in love with this book, but then it fell flat. I wanted to like this book but I just couldn’t. It made it so hard. Why? Oh, well. Here we go.
Let’s start with the characters. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them, least of all the protagonist, Kallista. She spends the better part of the book comparing her new home to her old and the society she should have originally married in. She gets angry easily and is almost immediately infatuated with the husband she was forced to marry. They don’t speak the same language which makes it a bit harder for them to get to know each other but somehow they still fall in love? I just don’t know where the romantic feelings came from. Which also made the nightly scenes a bit weird for me. Before they have sex for the first time, she’s worried but afterwards? Does she reflect on it? No. Kallista just starts falling in love with Carson, sticking to him and feeling safe with him. This was all very love at first sight even though they’ve been married for weeks.
The thing is, I still don’t really know anything about the two of them. Carson fights. He doesn’t like to read and is friendly with his people. Does he have any other hobbies? Does he want to have other hobbies? Why is he friendly with his subjects? How does it all work? We’ll never know.
The only character I took a bit of a liking to was Emmett, the assassin/monk who teaches Kallista the language and customs of the country she now lives in and secretly also how to fight. He’s sarcastic and a bit grumpy, yet supportive and cracks jokes. But here’s where I was fooled by the synopsis: I was excited to read about Kallista and Carson getting to know each other and falling in love and having sexual tension over sword training. But Carson only showed her how to hold a sword once and she was too weak to hold it. The real fighting teacher is Emmett and we didn’t even get to the part where he lets her fight, she’s still in the process of building some muscles. But she knows how to fight anyways? Stab them with the pointy end, I guess.
I was also promised political intrigue. WHERE WAS IT???
Then, there’s the plot and the world building. I usually don’t focus too much on the plot when the characters are well written. But in this case, there were just missing bits on every end. The plot was not exactly anything new, but I could have looked over that if the world building would have been sufficient. Instead, this book gave a bit of a romance, a bit of a monster hunt and a lot of question marks. I didn’t understand this world at all. How many countries are there? How do they work? Are they all monarchies?
And the thing is, Kallista was betrothed to another prince from another country for her whole life but we start the book with her marrying Carson. Because of some prophecy. I would have liked to read that prophecy, and also liked to know where it came from, how people reacted to it and especially how the prince she was betrothed with reacted to it. I mean, it essentially said „only Kallista can kill the evil monster so she has to marry another guy“, didn’t it? Then there’s the journey to Estral and we don’t really get descriptions of anything except that there are mountains and blood. And then they’re in Estral and it’s apparently the coldest country in this world… but they have coffee and citrus fruits?? How? At Kallista’s questions to that, Carson replies with a „I’ll show you someday“ but that someday is not happening anytime in the book. But I’d like to know. Where is that all coming from?
Then there’s also a thing that sets me in a rage everytime I see it: Words, that just don’t make sense in a fantasy world. You can’t just take words that are normal for you in this world and put them in your fantasy world. Check the etymology first. You can’t put „christening a child“ in a book when there is no religion called christinaity and there is also no Jesus Christ. And in this case I’m especially salty because it was only mentioned in passing and it wasn’t even necessary. This is probably just the language nerd in me, but I got so annoyed over this I had to put the book down for a few minutes.
What I really enjoyed though, was the language barrier between the characters. I liked how they had to work around languages to communicate and to find creative ways to get to know each other better. It also spiced up the plot. A bit. A little bit.
But then came the end and it was so fast and after all that drama about the monster and killing it and how it’s so difficult and then the end just didn’t fit. I’m sorry for this rant, but I got really annoyed over this book.