DNF ARC Review: KALYNA THE SOOTHSAYER by Elijah Kinch Spector

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on blue and gold blurred image
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: DNF at 25%
Series: standalone


Book cover for KALYNA THE SOOTHSAYER: title

Kalyna’s family has had the Gift for generations: the ability to see and predict the future. For decades, they have traveled around the four connected kingdoms of the Tetrarchia—one country with four monarchs—selling their services as soothsayers. The Gift is their calling and what defines them. Every child of their family has the Gift.

Except Kalyna. Born without the Gift, for years, she’s supported her father—who is losing sight of reality under the weight of his confused visions of the future—and her cruel grandmother on the strength of her wits, using informants and trickery to fake prophecies and scrounge a living. But it’s getting harder every year.

And poverty turns to danger when, on the strength of her reputation, Kalyna is “hired” (kidnapped, she would call it) by Lenz, the spymaster to the prince of Rotfelsen. Lenz wants Kalyna to use her talent for prophecy to uncover threats against Rotfelsen’s king, and he’s willing to hold her family hostage against her good behavior. But Rotfelsenisch politics are devious; the King’s enemies abound; and Kalyna’s skills for investigation and deception are tested to the limit. Worse, the conspiracy she begins to uncover points to a threat not only to the King of Rotfelsen but to all four monarchs of the Tetrarchia, when they meet for their annual governing “Council of Barbarians.” A Council that happens to fall at precisely the same time that Kalyna’s father has prophesied the catastrophic downfall of the Tetrarchia.

Kalyna is determined to protect her family (even Grandmother!), and her newfound friends—and to save the Tetrarchia too. But as she is drawn deeper into palace intrigue, she’s not sure if her manipulations are helping prevent the Tetrarchia’s destruction—or if her lies will bring it about.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


The premise of this book is so good. That’s why I wanted to read this book – someone faking being a soothsayer in the midst of a dangerous court? It’s sounds exactly my sort of thing.

Unfortunately, it was a very difficult book to follow and keep track of, to the point that I was so turned around and struggling to remember the various factions and names that I stopped reading.

KALYNA THE SOOTHSAYER is told through lots of short chapters – from maybe 1 kindle page to 10 or so. The issue I had was that a lot of these are world building diversions. You could be in the middle of a ball and then have a diversion into world building explaining the various different cultural attitudes of the four kingdoms towards duelling. Then it would be back to the ball for something that a one line about duels being a thing would have covered, except by now you’ve lost track of who was involved because of that massive information dump of unnecessary information.

It was like that the entire way through and I found it so hard to follow what was happening – let alone care – as there were continual side trips into information that wasn’t necessary to me understanding. These felt like info-dumping and distracted me from what was happening until the plot became very hard to understand. It’s absolutely a stylistic choice, just one that didn’t work for me.

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