TORN by Rowenna Miller

tornTORN (The Unraveled Kingdom #1)
By Rowenna Miller
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: 3/20/18
ISBN: 9780316478625
Pages: 480
Genre: Fantasy


TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.

My Thoughts

TORN had already landed on my radar when I received word that a copy would be arriving. And it was not long into the book that it solidified its spot among many other anticipated releases and immediately took precedence over my current reads.

This is the story Sophie, and young seamstress who has the ability to cast charms into stitches and has succeeded in opening and establishing a successful business during a time when doing so is impossible for many. She has built an impressive list of clientele. Unfortunately, the nobles she depends on to maintain her business are also the very individuals her beloved brother Kristos is leading an anti-monarchist movement against, that threatens to turn violent revolution. Through her work, Sophie attracts the eye of a Duke that she soon develops feelings for. However, when Kristos is kidnapped and the ransom requires her to produce a cursed garment for the Queen, she soon finds herself TORN between her brother and community and her current life and beliefs.

TORN unravels at a leisurely pace that allows the reader to reflect and savor each moment. Full of political intrigue and moral dilemmas, it boasts a significant amount of character development in the unlikely form of a dressmaker. Sophie is charming and simplistic in the most elegant ways. While it is easy to understand Kristos’ desire to bring about change and crush the currently oppressive system, we are given a strong insight into Sophie’s own trials that allows us to understand why she struggles with his actions. I cheered Kristos for fighting the people’s fight but found myself unable to fault her for her inability to do the same. We are immersed in a world where we are given multiple sides of the coin. Soon learning of her fears for her brother’s safety, work ethics and desires for a more peaceful approach, Sophie easily won my respect and admiration in terms of protagonists. She presents a fascinating process of evolution as she is exposed to the system and attempts to come to term with greater knowledge and understanding.

I have to pause for a minute and reflect on the romance elements within TORN, as I am not normally a fan. Here, however, it unfolded in such a natural and almost charismatic way, that I admittedly found myself drawn back to her relationship with Duke Theodore. The additional element of an impossible affair thrust into the throngs of forthcoming revolution made this work on every level and upped the ante for our young heroine.

The magic system is not only original but sophisticated. The descriptive process of Sophie’s abilities to stitch charms and also see them being cast, accompanied by the explanations of the emotional impacts this had on her felt complete and beautifully balanced.

World build was slightly limited but not necessarily flawed. The settings coincide perfectly with the unfolding plot and I expect we will see much more in the second book.

Miller writes with a certain level of complexity that speaks of appreciation for her readers. Refusing to spoonfeed us all of the answers, she has built an intelligent system of politics and societal conflicts that not only allows but encourages us to form our own opinions. And there will be times that is not easy.

This is a delightfully surprising debut slow burn that fans of fantasy and political intrigue will find impossible to put down. I will be impatiently awaiting the sequel.

*I want to thank the publisher Orbit for this copy. The above review is my own, honest and unbiased opinion.

tea cup

Devoured over a nice cup of Jasmine Oolong!

Purchase Links:  Book Depository

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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39 thoughts on “TORN by Rowenna Miller

  1. Ahoy there matey! I have to say that yer review be fascinating. I just finished reading it yesterday and had a completely different take on this novel. I mean seriously it felt like ye read an entirely different book! But that is why I love reading reviews written by me crew. Me review of torn will be up tomorrow.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow such a beautiful review Danielle!! ❤ This sounds like such an original concept ! I like how youre not a romance fan usually but when it comes naturally you got Danielle approved hahaha 😉 Woo !! And it's a debut novel? That's amazing !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review!! I would agree with you about romance, it’s not usually my cup of tea but if it happens naturally and slowly I get that. The story sounds pretty original, but I don’t read much fantasy. Although I am wanting to dive into some epic fantasy and see how that goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic review, Danielle! I’ve seen that book around, and this is the first review I’ve read for it! Sounds like it might actually be worth our time. 😛 A debut novel that seems to promise great things from this author. Will keep an eye open for this one!

    By the way, did you change the font size of your blog’s page? Everything seems smaller. Also seems like you continue to explore new review structures! Still lovin’ everything you dish out though. 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank Lashaan! As for the blog, I tweaked the layout a tiny bit. So I maybe up the font size a notch? Is it difficult to read? And yeah, I think this is the format for reviews I am going to stick with. I played with a bit of graphics, but it never feels right. Sometimes simplicity is underrated maybe 🖤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to know. 🙂 I do enjoy fantasy a lot but it has to have a good balance for me. When there´s romance, politics with fantasy, all in equal proportions then I´ll most likely love it. If a fantasy has too much of either than I´ll spot all kinds of stuff that bug me. A fantasy with too much romance is nothing different than a romance that feels realistic until it´s mentioned that some character is a Faerie, do you know what I mean?

        Liked by 1 person

            1. Haha I guess it will have to be 😉. I kind of feel like this is not an ideal read for you. But I am only basing that on what I have seen you review so far. Who knows? I could be pleasantly wrong and you could love it. Although with my low tolerance, I think we have varying opinions of what qualifies as romance ❤


  5. Brilliant… I love the sound of this book and the cover is simply unreal how pretty and clever! Add that little political intrigue and I am SO in!
    Apologies for my bad memory- did you read Queen of the Tearling? If yes, do you find it fair to be compared? I like the first book in the Tearling series but the following titles flopped for me… so that comparison has put me slightly on edge but I would still like to give Torn a go someday! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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