Author: Fran WildeEdition: PaperbackRating: 3 Stars
This is a little novella published by Tor that had me intrigued first because of the cover and second because of the description, which was cryptic but sounded like it boasted some serious girl-power and an interesting magic system. I went into this with higher expectations than I should have and was disappointed because of it.
The Jewel and Her Lapidary is about a jewel, which means she is part of the royal family in this valley, and her lapidary, which means she is a servant to the jewel but also a bodyguard and near-sister character. When her family is murdered, the Jewel, Lin, becomes the sudden heir and she devises a plan to get her lapidary, Sima, out of the trouble before the villains who concocted the whole thing arrive for Lin.
While the magic system was cool, it was confusing. It took me ages to figure out who actually had any power and what it did. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since it is a novella and only meant to be short and to the point. Explaining the magic system would have dragged out the whole thing in an unnecessary way and really wouldn't have mattered since it is clearly pretty understood by the author herself. However, because of this early confusion, I didn't really understand why the beginning is as important as it is meant to be. I think a second reading would increase my enjoyment of this part in general.
The plot, too, was slightly confusing as I tried to figure out who was who in the very start. Again, not a bad thing, per se, for a novella of this sort, but also not something I really enjoyed having to work so hard for. And when things did straighten out it was an overall good plot, with a few moments of me scratching my head and wondering why what the characters choose is what they choose. It was also predictable- but in a good way. It's not meant, I don't think, to surprise you with the way it ends, and the fact that see what is coming far before it comes makes the emotion an even harder punch to the gut. I did actually have tears and was seriously moved by the final choices the characters make.
Which brings me to the true jewels of this story: the characters. They were wonderfully fleshed out and so interesting. I loved that they would give themselves to each other and how they both understand this about the other. It makes everything about their situation more heartbreaking. Also, and I may have just been reading between the lines (which, ins't that what one is meant to do??), but I really do think they were in love romantically. It's not great representation because they don't come out and say it specifically, so I won't say it's a diverse book, but I do think there are at least seeds here of what, had it been a proper novel, would have been a beautiful relationship.
TL;DR? It's a pretty solid novella. I would recommend getting it discounted or from the library, rather than buying it full price for the few places where the plot and the world-building fall through.