When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever.
After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.
To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish—into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.
Shadow and Bone meets Lore in Rebecca Ross’s Divine Rivals, an epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel filled with hope and heartbreak, and the unparalleled power of love.
“Because I want to write about things that matter. I want my words to be like a line, cast out into the darkness.”
I had read other books by Rebecca Ross but this is my favorite so far.
I was totally immersed in that story that made me feel a lot of emotions. This is heartwarming, heartbreaking, sweet, romantic, dark, intense and light at the same time.
The main trope is an “enemies to lovers” or rather a rivalry romance story between Iris Winnow and Kitt Roman. Both come from totally different background, one poor and the other wealthy but both have lost a loved one and that has affected them deeply.
At the beginning of the story, they are competing to become columnist at the Oath Gazette. Said competition to get the best story is set on a background of brewing war.
The timeline felt like mid twentieth century but with gods and magic added into the mix.
Iris’s brother left for war and she feels alone, writing him letters that she posts in their wardrobe. When a letter gets back to her through that same wardrobe, she realizes that a stranger is writing back. Soon both will exchange daily letter through that portal, baring their souls and forming a deep connection.
The letters exchange was the best part of that story to me. I always love when books have epistolary elements as the best way to get to know someone is through letters, unencumbered by sight and prejudices.
After a dramatic turn of events, Iris will decide to go to war as a war correspondent. She’ll find a new family in the process but will also face the horror of war, proving her bravery and compassion.
I honestly love and admire Iris’s character. She is not a great beauty nor royalty nor a warrior. She is an ordinary girl who will decide that she wants to write about things that matter and she will face her fear, leave her life to do just that.
“Roman thought about her notes. All of the soldiers’ stories she had gathered over the past few days. The horror and the pride and the pain and the sacrifices and the victories.
She had to carry those words back home. She had to live through this so she could to type it out. So her words could be carried by train six hundred kilometers to the Inkridden Tribune in the glib city of Oath.”
She has to survive this, Roman thought. He didn’t want to live in a world without her and her words.”
Rebecca Ross ‘s words about war, about the damage it does to soldiers and civilians rang extremely true. It really is unusual in young adult literature, especially in urban fantasy, to have themes with such gravitas written in a realistic way, no sugarcoating things. There is no “fade to black” to war stories here nor unnecessary gore or sensationalism. There is only truth and accuracy.
Words that punched me in the face and brought me close to tears more than once.
“If I live, I’ll be full of nothing but regrets and apologies, because I’m the last one. The Sycamore Platoon is gone, Miss Winnow. We woke up this morning to one world, and now the sun is setting on another.”
This is as much a character driven as a plot driven story as we have a pace slowly picking up to end on a shocking cliffhanger!
Both Iris and Kitt are characters you’ll love and respect. Both flawed, true, passionate, brave and caring.
Woven around a rivalry romance story, happening in an urban fantasy universe on a backdrop of war, that story put me on roller coaster of emotions and was just uniquely compelling.
I want the sequel now.
Thanks for reading.