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From Booktok to Bookshelf: 'Divine Rivals' Review and Revelation

"A girl who writes letters to her missing brother and the boy who reads them", this was the line that generated this whole book as the acknowledgment chapter of this book says. Also, The author Rebecca Ross says something else in that chapter: "The right books find you at just the right moments as a reader as an author". As a reader, I believe it to be true.

I started reading this book when I stumbled upon a TikTok video featuring one of my fellow BookTok enthusiasts shedding tears while reading it. Curiosity piqued, and I wondered what could evoke such powerful emotions. I'm not usually one to cry while reading books; only 'Hunting Adeline managed to stir such emotions in me. However, something else caught my eye – the book's cover, which I found utterly divine!

Book Description by Goodreads

So, I reached out to my friend for a recommendation, and she urged me to delve into it. I promptly ordered it online and, unable to wait for the physical copy to arrive, I dived into the eBook. Though I must admit, the Kindle edition's cover didn't quite live up to my expectations.

So, I started my reading journey, I was instantly transported to a bygone era, evoking a distinct 1940s ambiance reminiscent of a world at war. The book's ability to vividly paint the surroundings and convey the inner thoughts of its characters was utterly enchanting. From the rain-soaked streets to Iris's entrance into the Gazette and her room's detailed description, it was all beautifully explained.

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The story introduces two central characters, Roman Kitt and Iris ((beautiful name like the flower) Winnow. They are locked in a fierce competition for a columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette. On the side, Iris grapples with the absence of her brother, who left for war. She pens heartfelt letters to him, which she never sends but instead stashes away in her cupboard, where they mysteriously vanish. There's a hint of magic in this world, with mentions of buildings that operate solely on magic giving a Harry Potter vibe, and Iris suspects her cupboard might have magical properties too. On the other side of the story, we have Roman Kitt, residing in a magical mansion and also harboring a peculiar cupboard. Iris's letters inexplicably appear in Kitt's cupboard, and he recognizes her writing instantly. After three months, he finally begins to respond and informs Iris that he is not her brother, Forest. This sets the stage for their correspondence, where they discuss a variety of topics and share their lives.

Tragedy strikes when Iris's mother passes away, a painful scene to read. Her mother had been deeply affected by Forest's departure for war, descending into alcoholism. On the cusp of turning her life around, she tragically passes away, leaving Iris in a heart-wrenching situation. She no longer cares about the job she has been striving for, and she fails to pay attention to her boss's final assignment, leading to her losing her promotion to Kitt. So she resigns and goes to Inkridden Tribune (The rival paper of Oath Gazette), which is recruiting correspondents to report from the front lines of the war. When Kitt learns of this, he is furious and reveals his identity to Iris in his letter. However, she does not read his last letter and heads off to war.

The ensuing chapters provide a harrowing portrayal of the wartime experience, depicting how people endure and survive amidst the chaos of conflict. The narrative also delves into the machinations of Dacre, the god of war, who seeks Enva, a goddess with a harp, though these are secondary albeit critical details that need to be explored within the book because they set the plot of the current situation about why war is happening.

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As the story unfolds further, Kitt leaves Oath Gazette too, and goes to Iris by taking up the same correspondent job. Because he is scared of Iris's safety and he wants to tell her about himself. They face another life-threatening situation leading to Kitt revealing his identity and then, events unfold rapidly leading to Kitt and Iris marrying, but their happiness is short-lived as Dacre's actions lead to their separation. It's a whirlwind of emotions and events.

My Review

My Rating: 

4 stars.

Spice Level: 🌶

1/5, Mild.

In my opinion, this book is exceptionally well-written, with vivid portrayals, a seamless plot, and no discernible plot holes. This is the first book I read of Rebecca Ross. The writing flows effortlessly, and the story progresses smoothly. I must also mention that the book's cover is a work of art, which holds significant appeal for me. However, there is a 'but.' The title, 'Divine Rivals,' left me puzzled, as there is no clear indication of why these two characters are divine rivals, nor does the phrase seem to align with the story's themes. The quote on the book cover, "No god, no creature, no war can come between them," also left me questioning its relevance. However, at the end of the book, Kitt is captured by Dacre and Dacre saves his life so maybe it has something to do with this. but then the next book's name is Ruthlss Vows. Okay, it's just adding to my confusion.

I was thinking of some kind of deep and complicated plot but the book is pretty simple and straightforward. I love twists and turns in a book that keep me eat the edge of my set this book doesn't have them at all. This book is firmly rooted in the young adult genre, which is not typically my cup of tea. However, I decided to give it a chance based on a friend's recommendation. All in all, it's a good read, and I particularly enjoyed the vintage vibe emanating from the letters exchanged between Roman and Iris. their letters were beautiful, to be honest (Sigh!!! I am such a romantic). It's perfect for a cozy, casual, and light evening read, as it doesn't weigh heavily on the plot, at least from my perspective. I would rate it four stars.


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