Persephone is the unremarkable middle daughter of a peasant family in the Kingdom of Lethe. When death stops, all families in the kingdom are called upon to send their eligible daughters to Death’s Keep in the hope that one will be taken as his Cobweb Bride and death would return. To spare her mother the pain of losing her two favourite daughters, Persephone volunteers to make the journey.
At the heart of the Imperial Realm, a birthday party is being held at the impressive Silver Court for the Emperor’s only child, the Infanta Claere Liguon. A frail and sickly child, she finds a renewed strength of self when she is assassinated at the party and yet cannot die. Deciding to travel to Death’s Keep herself, she demands the presence of her murderer on her journey and begins unravelling a secret hidden at the heart of her father’s realm.
While the two girls have lived extraordinarily different lives, both find themselves amongst the thousands of girls marching towards death. But the road is long and treacherous. The Duke of Hoarfrost, slain in battle by a soldier struck dead by his own hand, does not want to fade into death. To reach the Keep the girls must pass through his lands, and he will do whatever it takes to keep death from his Cobweb Bride.
I love that feeling you get when you read a synopsis and all you can think is ‘must read now!’ That was definitely my gut reaction when I first came across Cobweb Bride. Although I would say now that, in my opinion, the synopsis was just a tad misleading on a couple of plot points, since the overall story ended up being better than I was expecting I am not complaining!
Persephone aka Percy’s role in the story, for example, takes on a bigger/different role than initially suggested (but then again with a name like that it wasn’t the biggest of surprises) yet it was so much better and refreshing that she had that role I was pleased my expectations had been turned upside down.
I was also very impressed with how Vera wrote the consequences of death essentially turning around and telling everyone to get lost. I’ve read stories/seen films where characters fear death and where its horror is explored sometimes subtly, sometimes gruesomely, but what this book does so well is to show what people often forget – that death can be a blessed relief. Don’t get me wrong, the battle scene at the beginning and a couple of scenes later when people have yet to cotton on to what’s happening are a wee bit…graphic, but also necessary to the story so I guess my squeamish self can’t have it both ways!
One of this story’s biggest strengths was definitely the characters and how they reacted to the chaos of a world without death. Percy’s development was a real gem to read, and it was also particularly satisfying to read about about both Claere and Beltain’s journeys, seeing how Claere and Vlau interact is such frankly abnormal circumstances and how all the girls Percy gathers together navigate their way to the Keep.
So, while Cobweb Bride might not have been exactly what said on the tin, Vera Nazarian certainly kept enough up her sleeve to make this an engaging read that I’ll certainly be coming back to. And since the next book in the trilogy, Cobweb Empire, is released on 25th September, having such a short wait in between books certainly made for another pleasant surprise 🙂