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I have never encountered a fantasy world quite like this one: parasite spirits, dangerously vibrant nature, elemental magic, vampire-esque blood powers, and gigantic animal companions all combine to create one of the most unique fantasy worlds I've ever read.

I’d give this 5 gajillion stars if that was an option. The Ninth Rain gave me that much sought-after feeling of needing to read every second of the day I could; when I wasn’t consuming this story at a rapid pace, I desperately wanted to be. Going in with zero expectations, I didn’t know anything about the world I was diving into, but after reading the prologue I was enamored.

We start the story with a dead god and the destruction that is left in the wake of the vacuum that leaves. A society trying to pick up the pieces of their crumbling legacy and the rest of the world trying to adjust to the changes wrought by the aftermath of a war. We follow three different POVs: one a scholar trying to unravel the unknown, the second a prisoner punished for her innate power, and the third a member of the aforementioned dead god’s society. Williams expertly weaves all of these plot threads together as they coalesce to slowly reveal the mysteries of this world.

As a lover of all things mythological and folklore, the slow reveal of the ancient history of this world captured me completely and I was desperate to learn the next piece of the puzzle. I have never encountered a fantasy world quite like this one: parasite spirits, dangerously vibrant nature, elemental magic, vampire-esque blood powers, and gigantic animal companions all combine to create one of the most unique fantasy worlds I’ve ever read. Williams also does an amazing job of balancing the dark with the warm and cozy. Crackling hearths and mouthwatering meals – where they can be found – are a welcome contrast to the dark world our characters inhabit.

In addition to the fantastic backdrop, the characters are all distinctly developed and the found family vibes are immaculate (I’d die for Vintage honestly). All of this is delivered through prose that is accessable yet quite profound at moments. I found myself highlighting many passages that I wanted to remember later. One of the themes I found beautifully expanded upon, and warranted many of said highlights, was the bittersweet cycle of beginnings and endings; of rebirth and death.

One warning for those looking to pick this up, there are bugs here…bugs involved in some body horror. Not gratuitous or overwhelming in my opinion, but if bug motifs are a big no-no for you, I’d tread carefully.

TL: DR I’m obsessed and not continuing onto the next one in order to finish some other reads by the end of the year is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Best believe The Bitter Twins will be the first read of 2024 for me.

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