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BookRatMisty

BookRatMisty

Vessel

Vessel - Sarah Beth Durst Okay, so what had happened was, I wrote a very glowing review of this last year after I read it, and apparently somewhere along the line, it got deleted. Couldn't tell you when, as it was around the holidays that it would have gone up (and who can focus on anything except yummy turkey dinners (mmm, gravy!*), ugly holiday sweaters and family dramz around the holidays?); all I know is that I went to link to it for something a few weeks ago and noticed it was no more. =/[*But seriously, though? I am a gravy MASTER. So full of yumz, you want to pour that shiz on everything.]I was going to try to rewrite it right then, but then I realized that, though it's not a fairy tale retelling, it has a strong folklore and mythology basis and style to it that actually makes it a really good fit for FTF!And here we are.So though it's now been months since I read this, and I'm sure I was dazzlingly witty the first time around, I'm just going to give you guys a quick  rundown of why I think this book is awesomesauce, and you should pick it up.I have to start, of course, with the world building, which is such a stunner that I'm pretty sure it will be what comes to mind first for just about everybody. It was so amazingly strong, detailed and unique; I think Durst really did a knockout job of creating a world that felt complete and utterly fascinating. It manages to be both realistic and completely fantastical; because Durst really built the world from the ground up, history and all, there's a really strong foundation that the story is rooted in, which allows the more fantastical elements to kind of play on top of that. Its strong real-world basis - a culture which felt really believable, with authentic customs, superstitions and interactions and a strong folkloric feel - just lures you right in, and makes you see everything that's going on, and the layering of the mythos on top of that was flawless. And the truly amazing thing, is that all of this fantastic world-building is done with almost no info-dumping. Everything about it just feels so utterly natural - from the first page, you're immediately plunged into this world that just feels right, and you don't event have to think about it. There's no overly-detailed infodump, and there's no confusion - just a beautifully realized world to immerse yourself in. The religion and fantasy elements Durst has created are unique and executed really well, and I think even if I hadn't connected to the characters, I still would have loved this book on the strength of the world alone.But I did love the characters! The main character, Liyana, is easily one of my absolute fave female leads of recent memory. The same is true of the male lead, Korbyn. I defy you not to love Liyana and Korbyn. But it's not just them - I like even the not-likable characters. All of their interactions; their individual strengths and weaknesses; the way they related to their worlds, religions, clans and each other; they way they fit as pieces in the larger puzzle - all of it worked brilliantly for me. There's a perfect amount of different types of tension (a ticking clock, looming war, romantic tension and the kind that comes when clashing personalities have to work together), and it made for a really compelling reading experience that I could feel. I love it when a book makes me physically feel something.There was a slight bobble at the end, when things began to feel a little more rushed or just...not as strong as the rest of an otherwise extremely strong book, I guess?  But I still endorse it wholeheartedly; it ticks all of my boxes for a stand-out, reread-worthy fantasy:Compelling world building with a believable real-world basis ✓Believable, intelligently conceived and carried-out mythology and history  ✓Thoughtfulness and complexity  ✓Unique "visual" elements, like sandwolves (ie, they are literally sand-wolves - they show up in sandstorms, and howl in the howling wind!) and flying glass serpents  ✓Strong, intelligent, competent female lead  ✓Intriguing male lead (who happens to be a trickster god!)  ✓a "love" story (dare I say, a triangle, even) that is complex and lacking in foregone conclusions  ✓Memorable-ness  ✓and tension, tension, glorious TENSION  ✓Durst gets stronger with every book, in my opinion, and has become one of my top authors to watch.