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“…but I will not sift through her choices and dispose of the ones that make me afraid. They are not mine.”

ledgeWhat is Ledge About:

Ledge is the heart-stopping beginning to the Glacian Trilogy from TikTok sensation Stacey McEwan.
In a place known as the Ledge, a civilization is trapped by a vast chasm and sheer mountain face. There is no way for anyone to escape the frozen wasteland without befalling a deathly drop. They know nothing of the outside world except that it is where the Glacians reside – mystical and vicious winged creatures who bring meagre rations in exchange for a periodic human sacrifice.
Dawsyn, ax wielder and only remaining member of her family, has so far avoided the annual culling, but her luck has run out. She is chosen and ripped from her icy home, the only world she knows. No one knows what will happen to her on the other side, least of all Dawsyn. Murdered? Enslaved? Worse?
Fortunately, a half-Glacian called Ryon offers to help them both escape, but how can she trust one of the very creatures that plagued her life? Dawsyn is a survivor, and she is not afraid to cut anyone down to live.

Review:

A thank you to Ms. Lambe at Angry Robot Books for granting my request for an eArc copy of this novel. Receiving it did in no way impact my opinion and final thoughts.

Hello again dear reader or listener, today’s review is about antithesis because while the world is melting under this delightful summer heat, I enjoyed reading about biting and unforgiving cold landscapes. Not gonna lie it was a little hard to picture. Cool air? Does such a thing really exist anymore?

Right so, let’s get a little more serious, first of all, you know I love my disclaimers so here’s today’s. I pursued getting this ARC like never before because I first found out about Ledge coming out through McEwan’s Instagram/TikTok hilarious shenanigans. Then, FanFiAddict was chosen to be among the cover reveal party and I jumped at the opportunity because it is absolutely beautiful! Long story short I landed a review copy and I was over the moon. Until I saw it was in present tense that is. If you’ve been around yours truly in any form, you’ll know my brain won’t have it. I don’t know why I struggle this much but it is what it is, and that also meant that it took me almost two weeks to read a book that I would’ve flown through in an afternoon. Pun very much intended because this story has winged creatures heh. I put on my big girl pants however and stubborned my way through it because I really, really, wanted to read this book!
I am glad I did, despite my misgivings about the tense, because ultimately this was a great debut novel introducing us to some amazing characters, fun and snarky banter, and really cool action sequences.

As usual with my 8s I also had a few things that I might’ve enjoyed more if done differently but let’s start with all the good stuff!

Stacey McEwan joins the ranks among the new gen of authors who are modern and inclusive in all the right ways without being on the nose nor performative for the sake of it. There is seamless diversity and LGBTQ+ rep, as well as a satisfying dose of equality. Our main man Ryon is also a healthy drinker of respecting women juice and he knows better than to try and make any sort of alpha male decisions for main protag Dawsyn, our resident badass axe wielder extraordinaire. The cast of side characters is small but utterly delightful and I instantly grew fond of every single one of them for different reasons each. I need an Esra in my life and I’ll leave it there. There is more than one kind of villain, that I am interested in seeing more of, with a good ole helping of history written by the victors trope. McEwan pulls no punches in showing what fighting tooth and nail for survival all your life will turn you into, and Dawsyn is unapologetically rough around the edges. I appreciated that there’s no attempt to smoothen her out either. We always need more female characters that aren’t pressured to change to fit the nice and likeable mold.

The plot unfolds steadily throughout and, most of the time, the reader only comes to big revelations along with the protagonist herself, making for impactful plot twists and reveals, that shake things up any time you’d expect a lull. Betrayals and evil plotting abound, keeping the reader on their toes. Moreover, McEwan’s fight scenes are really well choreographed and her evocative writing made for some riveting action sequences. It was really cool to see a protag whose primary weapon is an axe/hatchet as well, as the mechanics of it are different! Also, the magic system is simple and with inklings about it being semi sentient magic which is always really fascinating to me as it feels like another character to enjoy.

Another thing I really quite enjoyed was the amount of times the reader sees a lot of what we take for granted, through Dawsyn’s eyes when she encounters things that she hadn’t encountered outside of her harsh life on the Ledge. Those were some really beautiful moments in the midst of action or worry or fear and tension.

This first book ends on a horrendous (in a “good” way) cliffhanger by the way, and to add insult to injury, my Kindle was actually glitching last night so it wasn’t showing me how much reading I had left. Which meant that I finished the chapter mildly perturbed about the last paragraph’s events, safe in the illusory knowledge that I would see them resolved in the next chapters. Only to turn the page and see the boldlettered ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS mocking me cruelly. Just rude. Needless to say, I am really eager to see what happens next! I need answers and maybe some consoling.

On another side note, this novel is an adult fantasy romance, so there is explicit sexual content, not too much of it however and toeing the line of the fairly euphemistic variety. I’d tentatively put it on a 2.5 out of 5 spice scale if you like, but those are quite subjective.

As for what didn’t completely land with me, well, these are mostly personal peeves, so take them with a grain of salt. McEwan’s dialogues have a tendency towards the more archaic or fanciful, which might fall into a bit of a melodramatic turn if taken too seriously. But it also works towards her setting’s tone so I don’t overly mind the dramatic flair. Secondly, I am always a little thrown out of the plot when a story has a mix of common real-world character names in between fantastical ones, because it mostly makes me giggle. It lowkey feels like the hydra meme where the two fierce heads are the cool fantasy names and on the dorky head you have a Steve or a Bob. My only real peeve however was the speed of the relationship turnaround in the story. This is supposedly a slow-burn enemies to lovers, which creates amazing banter – McEwan has that one down to a T and I expected nothing less of her – but the time lapsed feels too short for the strength of feelings etc. That’s me being a lil crotchety maybe, because regardless of it being really fast, the relationship does evolve naturally and doesn’t feel forced. So there’s that.

if you’re a fan of Sarah J. Maas (I tread lightly going from what I generally know of her books and characters because I’ve not read any of her work), Hannah Whitten, or, more in general, gritty fantasy with a badass heroine, a side of romance, and lots of snark, this is a book for you dear reader or listener!

Until next time,
Eleni A.E.

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