Umbertouched by Livia Blackburne

Monday, November 5, 2018


by Livia Blackburne
Series: Rosemarked #2
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: November 6th 2018
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷1/2

What a wonderful duology Rosemarked has been. It's always a nerve-wracking experience going into a series finale because your expectations are so high, but I didn't have to worry about anything here. Livia Blackburne delivered a bittersweet, yet powerful finale with Umbertouched.

This book opened up where Rosemarked left off. I'll admit to taking a while to get re-oriented in this world, but once I was in, I was wholly engaged. Livia Blackburne has got a way with words that make it very easy to sink into her story. Zivah and Dineas had gone through hell and more in Rosemarked, and I was curious to see how the impacts of everything of the first book would affect them. The author dove deeply into that creating layers upon layers to these two beautiful characters. Their grief and their trauma were strong elements of their personalities, but so was the immense amount of strength they possessed. Zivah's story arc in Umbertouched was one I found especially touching - she struggled with her morality and her vows as a healer in this book, and that was explored so brilliantly here. I continued to be impressed by her giving nature and her kindness. It was easy to see why she was perfect as a healer. Dineas was an equally admirable character. In the previous book, he repeatedly took potions to erase his memory when he infiltrated the Empire and in this book, we get to see the aftermath of that. He struggled with his identity, with his loyalty, while at the same time being ostracized. It was undeniably difficult for him, but this was a young man who continued to face life fearlessly.

The pacing in Umbertouched was relatively slow for a fantasy novel, but it didn't affect me. I thought the focus on the characters and their paths was logical, and for me, it made the book much more relevant and emotional. Despite the slow progression of the plot, I was still tense throughout the book as the backdrop of the war cast an eerie shadow. I was afraid for all of the characters and there were times when the author did not make it easy on my poor little heart. I found the ending of this book to be very unconventional, but it also made sense and I appreciated that it remained realistic. It's one of those endings that will hurt and it still hurts when I think about it, but the journey that these characters went through to get there will forever be memorable.

Kudos to Livia Blackburne to writing such a compelling series. If you are looking for a fresh and emotional YA fantasy series, the Rosemarked duology should be at the top of your list. Don't let this one fly under your radar.

What are some of your favorite character-driven YA fantasy novels?
Let me know in the comments below!

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