I do not tend to judge a book by its cover, which is a good thing considering the state of the cover world lately (*cough* UF *cough*). But this is one of those rare cases where I sit looking at the cover wishing that the story held within even began to meet the cover in terms of excellence. The cover is gorgeous and well done by the artist. I cannot say the same for the story inside.
I did enjoy some aspects of the story, namely the characters. Despite some characters being poorly characterized (especially Sorcha, the lead, and various random characters that came and went), they were probably the strongest aspect of the book. Raed was my favorite character and he was the best characterized, perhaps not a coincidence. The story itself, when you could separate it from the writing, was entertaining.
However, the story along with everything else in the book suffered from the writing style overall. The book started off on shaky ground for me because the author chose to immediately jump into action. I prefer some background, some character building, some world building and all the niceties that make for a good beginning. But I did not receive any such background which left me stumbling along for a great portion of the book. The world is never well explained, the magic is explained in bits but not enough to really follow and actions are taken throughout the book that make you wonder WTF is going on.
There were many little things that bothered me throughout the book, such as constantly referring to Sorcha as Deacon Sorcha Farris--why not just Sorcha? This naming style happened with most pivotal characters. We are constantly put at such a distance from the characters that you cannot really come to care for them. Also, things are stated as if you should know them despite the information being entirely new and not understood. Such things happen over and over again leading to me staring at the cover wishing for a story half as good as the artwork.
I may read book two in the series simply in hopes that the writing improved and maybe I can gain some understanding about the overall story.