Oathbreaker by J. Kathleen Cheney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I am well and truly hooked. I thought I would just pick up this book out of idle curiosity since I enjoyed the “main” book of Dreaming Death (the first Palace of Dreams Novel). I forgot how Cheney takes intimate, every day situations with a hint of mystery and makes them into compelling reading where you are totally and completely in for both sides of the main couple.

So here’s the weird part…not much happens in this book. Yet somehow, in the depiction of every day life, the deciding who guards who, the explanations of how children are group-reared, the details of the Keep that show how intense cold is dealt with, the slow reveal of the true depth of relationships in Amal, the main female lead’s friend-group, etc, you fall absolutely in love with Amal and the main male lead, Dalyan, and with the Horn, the keep/fortress/village where Amal lives.

There is also a slow reveal of some of the history of the Fortress and this world that brings you deeper than Dreaming Death into the technological backstory. For some reason, this book presented the complicated political history in a bit more palatable fashion for me as well (Anvarrid invaders backed by Cince coming to Larossa where the psychic families lived.)

I loved the slow buildup of Amal and Dalyan’s relationship. And the teasing by Amal’s friends, and the way others had to keep checking that Amal wasn’t using coercion by way of her social status on Dalyan while still they didn’t trust him because of his mysterious past.

The focus on the everyday, intimate details of the life while following a mystery and building up relationships is apparently my catnip. The matter-of-fact way the characters go about their chores and go talk to each other reminded me of what I enjoyed so much about Anne Bishop’s Written in Red series, amongst others.

Warning, though, this one ends on a doozy of a cliffhanger involving Amal and Dalyan just as the main plot moved forward. Yikes! I think I might have been tempted to throw the Kindle across the floor, except that Cheney included a sneak peek into the next book in the series at the end that showed the very worst thing I feared didn’t happen…so thanks for that. Of course I had to go buy the next book in the series, though, darn it. Oathbreakers is only 99cents right now on Amazon as I am posting this. I might be tempted to recommend that you read this one FIRST before Dreaming Death since it is a more intimate picture of the world. Lovely.
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