Crier’s War by Nina Varela
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.
Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.
Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.
Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
Crier’s War was one of my most anticipated books of the year. It took me a lot longer to get through than I’d hoped, but in the end, I ended up really enjoying it. Crier’s War is an ode to queer high fantasy, with memorable characters and a romance that you can’t help but root for.
We have two main characters, who alternate viewpoints: Crier, an Automae noble, and Ayla, a human servant who hungers for revenge. I liked both of them equally; they’re both so different from each other and so interesting. Crier’s so curious and inquisitive, and she has so much empathy in her, while Ayla’s angry and determined to do the right thing, and they work so well together. There’s so much great character development and inner discovery from both of them.
The romance is slow burn mutual pining enemies-to-lovers which is literally everything I could ever ask for in a f/f book, and the romance totally lived up to the expectations. It was tense and full of yearning and small touches and denial, which is how I like my enemies to lovers. Crier and Ayla might start out on different sides, being told that each should hate the other, but over the course of the book they learn so much from one another and come to mutual understandings and love.
I found the pacing to be slow through most of the book; rather than a lot of action, Crier’s War is a fantasy that focuses very much on how the world changes through politics and revolution. Kinok, Crier’s fiance, leads the Anti-Reliance Movement, yet holds deeper ambitions, and a lot of the book is devoted to figuring what that is as well. Both Crier and Ayla do a lot of sneaking around and finding out intrigue, and slowly putting the pieces of a mystery together. It does pick up greatly near the end, with promises of things bigger than Crier or Ayla looming.
I adored the worldbuilding: it was a cross between steampunk and medieval fantasy, and it reminded me of Detroit: Become Human while I was reading it. However, the book dumps a lot of lore on you at once, which is why I found the beginning to be slow and a bit hard to get into. A lot of the lore is essential to understanding the story, so it’s not skippable. Nina Varela’s writing is gorgeous.
Crier’s War is a wonderful f/f enemies to lovers story with great worldbuilding, and it’s just all around soft. There’s so much in this book that comes together in such a quiet yet meaningful way, and I’m very much looking forwards to the next book.
representation | f/f main pairing, characters of color
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