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Daughter of No Worlds  should be considered a classic of modern fantasy, and it’s a must-read for fans of slow-burn romance as well.

Cover of Daughter of No Worlds, showing a blond woman in a sexy dress wielding a swordDaughter of No Worlds could be considered a fantasy romance or a romantic fantasy, depending on who’s describing it. The line between these two subgenres is a nebulous one, and in truth it’s more of a continuum. They say if you can take out the fantasy and you still have a love story it’s fantasy romance, and if you can remove the romance and still have a fantasy story it’s romantic fantasy. There are rare books that perfectly straddle the line between these two genres, where the fantasy and the romance are two halves of one seamless whole, interdependent, almost symbiotic.

Daughter of No Worlds by Carissa Broadbent is just such a book, a flawless symphony of immersive fantasy and enthralling romance, tied together by prose that is by turns gorgeous and profound. It easily cracks my top 10 books I have ever read, in any genre, and I urge you to pick it up and begin reading it today.

The first thing that drew my attention was the prose. Broadbent’s writing shows passion, insight, and fine attention to detail. I stopped highlighting passages in the book because I found myself highlighting entire paragraphs on page after page. Some, just because the language was beautiful:

Shadow doused the hard panes of his face, but his features were so sharp that they sliced through the dusk, meeting mine with equal determination and wary curiosity.

Others because they hit my feels like a freight train:

I didn’t make myself all of these terrible things—a whore, a killer, a traitor—just to be ignored and discarded before it could be worth something.

And some just because they made me laugh:

I quickly learned that Max was apparently only “made for” an exceptionally narrow set of environments, temperatures, activities, and interactions.

I also noted something I don’t see very often in books: the perfect mastery of sentence variation. I know, it’s a writer-nerd thing to say, but many writers lean heavily into either exceptionally tight or exceedingly flowery prose. Broadbent threads the needle, keeping her sentences short and punchy when necessary, but she’s not afraid to let loose with her considerable linguistic firepower when the occasion calls for it. This speaks to discipline, and the result is a book that’s eminently readable, despite its rather chonky length.

The characters are beautifully rendered and heartbreakingly real, especially Tisaanah, whose reaction to her considerable past trauma is to fight to make the world a better place. The trauma is on the page, present in her thoughts and reactions, but her character is not defined by it. She uses her experience to become more effective, more insightful, and stronger. Yes, she has rage—understandable given what she’s been through—but she’s more than just a reaction to her trauma. She’s a whole person who uses her experience to learn and understand, then takes that knowledge and puts it into action.

Max is a delight as well, with layers of complexity beneath his sugary, sarcastic exterior. He has a troubled history as well, which is revealed in perfectly balanced stages as Tisaanah’s bullheaded tenacity cracks his silky-smooth veneer. You can’t help but root for these two, but BOY HOWDY is this a slow burn. I’m not complaining (much) because the author makes us suffer and pine in such delightful ways, and isn’t this half the reason we read romantic stories?

The fantasy story, and the magic in particular, includes some common tropes that Broadbent breathes new life into, as well as some totally innovative stuff that caught me by surprise. The main antagonist, for lack of a better word, is a unique creation that I absolutely can’t tell you more about, but it’s what you come to fantasy for: magical beings like you have never seen before. I’ll be honest: I came to the book because of the romance, but the fantasy story is first-rate.

But back to the romance. I mentioned that it’s a slow burn, which is not always my first choice, but it’s truly earned. Both characters’ experience with trauma renders them unwilling to let anyone else in, which—okay, you might think you’ve seen that before, but not like this. It’s not the usual bad-boyfriend/girlfriend-scarred-me-for-life story. It’s more than that, with layers upon layers, and the fantasy story is all tied up in the romance in all the best possible ways. And when the sainted moment finally arrives, Broadbent delivers the goods with a perfect mix of heat and emotion. The intimate scenes are gorgeous, just spicy enough but not at all mechanical, giving you everything you need while leaving you begging for more.

Daughter of No Worlds should be considered a classic of modern fantasy, and it’s a must-read for fans of slow-burn romance as well.

Forget your TBR. Your next read has arrived.

 

Review: A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

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danfitzwrites

danfitzwrites

Fantasy author of the Maer Cycle trilogy (character-forward low fantasy) and the Weirdwater Confluence duology (sword-free fantasy).

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