Book Review: SCORPICA by G. R. Macallister

Title in white on navy next to a scorpion graphic
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 2 stars
Series: yes - first book

Synopsis:

Book cover for SCORPICA: title in gold on navy above gold graphic of a scorpion

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

A warrior queen must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

This is a book where I was unfortunately rather bored from page one, reading through to the end more out of principle to get there than for any real desire to know what was happening.

This lack of engagement started with the prologue. I honestly don’t know what the point of the prologue was. It’s pretty much a few pages of world and premise dump, doing nothing more than reiterating the blurb. There was no character, just vague factual overviews of people, so there was no reason for me to engage, nothing to latch onto.

It felt like reading an encyclopaedia entry, or wikipedia intro paragraph for a country. It felt like a waste of time to read that. More than a waste of time, if I’m honest – it felt like its inclusion signalled that the book didn’t trust itself to be engaging enough in chapter one without this “overview of world at book” to start with.

And yeah, that was pretty much the case. The first chapter wasn’t engaging at all. The first reason was it wasn’t obvious at all how the chapter (or frankly any of the next three) was related to the premise (which doesn’t come in until the second act, 64 pages in.)

This sense of directionlessness continued through the book. It never felt like the book was building toward something, but rather felt like humdrum days in the life of unconnected people in a world going wrong. There was very little linking the characters, which is never great for me enjoying a book. They didn’t interact in person, their actions had little apparent consequence on the others.

It also felt like some characters disappeared for a while then just reappeared. This makes me think the characters are unimportant so why are they in the book in the first place? Not that some reappeared at all – one character, Ama, had a lot of attention on her in the first 10 chapters and then never turns up again. One character thinks of her possibly once.

Not to mention the ending felt like it was invalidating everything that had come before. Pretty much none of the book leads up to or impacts on the ending. Only one character (later joined by another, both of whom have very little personal page time, and the main one rarely makes sense in the book) really has an impact on what happens in the finale. Almost nothing from the other POVs leads to that point, so what was the point in spending all the time with their lives and actions? They didn’t have any bearing on the climax.

The prose also didn’t engage me. It reminded me too much of the prose in The Wheel of Time series – too many words and yet not much happening. It felt so distant and unemotional.

Overall, this was such a disappointing, boring read. I will not be continuing with the rest of the series, which I’m guessing will be five book long.

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