Hi everyone! Welcome to my second author spotlight post. This time I am writing about Melissa Caruso and her wonderful fantasy books. Melissa has one finished trilogy (Swords and Fire), and another with one book out in the wild (Rooks and Ruin). Both are set in the same fantasy universe, but set 150 years apart so the characters don’t really cross over.
We will start with Swords and Fire, because that is where I first fell in love with the way Melissa writes. Book one is called The Tethered Mage (look at this gorgeous cover)
The Tethered Mage follows Amalia Cornaro, the daughter of La Contessa and therefore the heir to her position on the Council of Nine. What drew me to Amalia is her bookish nature and avoidance of all things political. She’d rather be reading than learning how to become her mother! Amalia’s life changes forever when she accidentally makes herself a Falconer of a mage-marked girl called Zaira, disrupting the balance of power in the Raverran Empire.
Zaira is taken to live in the Mews where she must train with Amalia. Zaira is such a wonderfully contrasting character to Amalia that it makes for such an amazing dynamic to read about. This is a series with great side characters in Marcello and his sister, as well as Domenic from Amalia’s time at university. The book is thrilling from start to finish and ends in a way that leads to discovering more of the universe in the next book – with an emerging adversary in the form of Prince Ruven of Vaskandar.
The Defiant Heir solidified this series’ place on my favourites list. It introduces a new romantic interest for Amalia, Kathe, who absolutely had my heart from the beginning. What is it about somewhat dangerous love interests and their ability to be so attractive? Kathe’s introduction definitely made things more interesting in the romance department (sorry Marcello).
This book in particular is full of loads of plot twists. The world-building got better and better as we are introduced to Vaskandar and how it differs from the Raverran Empire. The Witchlords make for such awesome politics in a series that already did an excellent job of it. Amalia is forced to make some terrible choices that really set up the final installment.
The Unbound Empire has my favourite cover of the lot – and might just be my favourite Melissa Caruso book. When a series stars off as good as Swords and Fire, it can be really difficult to keep up that momentum but Melissa does it beautifully. We learn more about Zaira than in the previous books (she’s a character that keeps on growing), and Amalia is still learning from her decisions in the previous book. She grows so much more mature in this final part, becoming the leader she didn’t know she could be. The love triangle between Amalia, Marcello and Kathe was actually OK (shock horror), and I honestly didn’t know who she would end up with at the end.
I am really happy to have read this series with its endearing characters, really casual diversity that doesn’t feel forced, humour that made me laugh out loud, cute moments between both romantic partners and friends, and edge of your seat kind of plot.
Finally, we have The Obsidian Tower, the first book in the Rooks and Ruin trilogy. Set 150 years after The Unbound Empire, I was really looking forward to how Melissa was going to build on an already amazing universe.
This book has a bisexual protagonist!!! What a win. This book put Melissa Caruso on my insta-buy list for good. Ryx is the granddaughter of a Witch Lord, The Lady of Owls, but there’s one problem – she has dodgy magic that means she kills everything she touches. This was a sure way to make Ryx’s problems interesting from the start! The book might have an even more of a political focus than the previous series as we explore different Witch Lord domains that we have previously.
Although this book doesn’t have romance, there are definitely hints that it is coming our way in the next book, so I am really looking forward to that. It’s the kind of book where everything goes wrong in the best of ways and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes in the future.
That’s all from me – I really hope you check out Melissa’s books because I really loved them. If you like good world-building and an abundance of political intrigue then you can’t go wrong.