“The Savior’s Champion” by Jenna Moreci: Book Review

It’s been over a week since my last retrospective book review, so I deemed it time for another one. Today, I’m rereviewing The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci.

(If you’re new, or you haven’t read any of my retrospective book reviews before, allow me a very quick explanation before moving into the actual review. You can probably surmise what it is on your own, but I’ll just say that I skim over a book I’ve read in the last few years prior to having a blog, and re-judge it to see if it was as great as I remember.)

The Savior's Champion by Jenna Moreci

The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci

Series: The Savior’s Series (Book #1)

Length: 671 pages

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fiction

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Book Description:

Tobias Kaya doesn’t care about The Savior. He doesn’t care that She’s the Ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn’t care that She’s of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he’s forced to make The Savior his priority.

Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign’s Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting—and killing—for the chance to rule at The Savior’s side. Instantly his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness.

Trigger warning: this novel contains graphic violence, adult language, and sexual situations.

My Review

Then: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Now: ★★✯☆☆ • 2.5 / 5 stars

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that there’s something a little different with this book review.

If you haven’t, it’s totally the lack of quotes from the novel. I’m telling you now, that there aren’t gonna be any quotes here, if you were looking for them. This is for a very simple reason: I didn’t find anything of this book to be particularly memorable. Like, line wise anyway – I remembered scenes from The Savior’s Champion well enough.

You might also be wondering: why, upon my reflection, there was a drop in stars. That is also something that I will answer here. But not quite yet. First, let’s go over the usual.

(Before doing so, I will acknowledge that my reading tastes may not be in this specific subgenre, so even though I found a lot I didn’t like about for me personally, someone else might really love it. I don’t know who to recommend it to, though.)

The Plot and Its Pacing

Let’s start with the storyline itself. The plot was pretty generic: protag has to save his family in some way, enters deadly tournament in order to get paid, falls in love with a girl. You know, the usual.

There’s nothing inherently wrong right that. Actually, the base plot is actually okay. The problem is, this book is far too long for what its pages contain, and thus is very slow-paced. Almost excruciatingly at times, even. It’s also super overwritten to fluff up the page count – it did not need to be over 600 pages long. (I think it would have been fine being around 400, but nevermind my opinion.)

But yeah, the plot itself is… fine. Most of the problems associated with it have to do with TSC’s pacing, and… other stuff.

The Characters (aka: The “Other Stuff”)

I’m going to be frank here: most of the characters in this novel kind of sucked. Like, they weren’t written very well. Many of them were under-characterized and has little to know motivation, and others didn’t have much of a personality and had motivations that shifted and didn’t make sense.

The main character, Tobias, is very dull. Nothing about him is interesting. Not to mention, he completely transforms into a complete different character around like halfway/two-thirds of the way through the novel. Like, wth?

And his family were complete non-characters. They merely existed as a motivation for Tobias for the first three chapters, and then ceased to exist in his mind for pretty much the rear of the book. And even when they do appear, as brief as it is, they are always “Number Two” in our protagonist’s mind, which they should not be, if he loves them as much as he claims.

“Number One” in Tobias’ mind – after he first encounters her at least – is Leila. Leila is our dueteragonist in this novel, and she’s just about as bland as our hero. She also has a “secret,” but it is something so completely and utterly obvious to the reader that I hesitate to name it as such. (And even then Tobias doesn’t figure it out until the very end of the book and he still has to be told it.)

All of the other characters – much like Tobias’ family – did not matter. Not really, at least. And there were far too many of them and they didn’t feel very distinct from one another. And the villain was just… so evil that it was nearly ridiculous.

The Prose

The prose wasn’t super good. There was either too much or too little description, and the dialogue never felt very natural. And the text is oversaturated with one word (cock), to the point that I actually wanted to fling the book across the room both times that I went through it!

Also, the chemistry between all of the different characters just really wasn’t there. And the romance between Tobias and Leila could have – and should have – been much stronger. I dunno, this book might have needed another edit or something – I’m no expert.

Why My Rating Changed So Drastically

Sooo… I discovered this book through the author’s YouTube channel. That’s right, Jenna Moreci is an authortuber, and she makes videos with writing advice. At the time I first read this book, its sequel The Savior’s Sister was releasing.

And, I’m just gonna be real. I liked Jenna and her videos, so I wanted to check out her books. And even though The Savior’s Champion was difficult for me to get through – it took me almost a month to finish it, which is extremely unusual for me – I was really self-conscious about my review. So I didn’t think too much about the book itself when I finished it, and just gave it 4 stars.

But looking back on it after attempting to read the sequel, as well as having since pretty much discontinued with watching Jenna’s videos, I can no longer ignore how I truly felt. So, I went through the book again (skimming at high speed) just to make sure my feelings were true, and then have it my true rating, without any of my bias blocking my vision.

So yeah, that’s why it went down to 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t really care for The Savior’s Champion too much, but someone else might like it, so as always, I encourage anyone still interested to give it a shot. Everyone has different taste buds when it comes to books, so everyone prefers something different on their pages.

Thank you to those of you who read this rant review, and have a great day/night!

See ya ~Mar

LINKS: Goodreads | Instagram

“Deeplight” by Frances Hardinge: Book Review

They say many things of the Myriad, and all of them are true.

Subnautica Meets Frankenstein Meets Lovecraft | Deeplight by Frances Hardinge [A Book Review]

Star Rating: ★★★✭☆ • 3.75 / 5 stars

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea meets Frankenstein in Frances Hardinge’s latest fantasy adventure

The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever?

When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms. How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster–and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?

The Plot Summary (is… Meh)

This book was insanely unsettling at times. To me at least. Like, it’s just labelled as a fantasy, YA book, but the horror genre felt strong with this one.

Deeplight is a stand-alone novel by Frances Hardinge published on April 14, 2020 by Amulet Books. (Well, technically it has a short story set in the same universe, but that’s it.) It centers on Hark, a young fifteen year old orphan boy, who discovers a mysterious porous stone from under the sea, that appears to have a heartbeat.

He then shoves it into the cold, dead hands of the abuser that his childhood best friend, because he’s a normal functioning teenager, and they do be like that.

Then said best friend slowly begins to evolve into a vaguely Cthulhu-looking, deep-sea monstrosity with an even worse personality. And things just get worse from there.

And that’s pretty much what the book description decides to sum up. What it doesn’t tell is, that before the whole resurrection by magical pulsating rock, he’s a thief on the streets who is forced to become a servant after being caught. (The alternative is death, so you can imagine he’s actually really into the first choice.)

This is how he gets involved with the scientists. Or scientist as it were. Dr. Vyne is the one who decides to pick him up as her servant at the prisoner auction (yes, really), and she’s pretty much the only scientists in this book. She and Hark have a fun dynamic, because she knows his BS and likes it, and he’s interested in some of her science-y stuff. Yeah, the summary is a bit vague and slightly inaccurate in my opinion. (Unraveller had the same problem now that I think about it.)

The Characters (are Great)

I actually really liked the main characters in the book. It’s too bad the summary basically only treated Hark and Jelt as the MCs, cuz that’s wrong.

Hark is the main character, it got that much right. He’s insecure, sassy, and has a very kind heart. He’s also the victim of emotional abuse, as implied above. A major part of his character arc is learning that being himself and not what someone else wants you to be is okay, and to learn to function without Jelt. He’s also the source of much of the humor in the book, which is nice after the darker, weirder parts. He’s a pretty great character.

Somehow Hark couldn’t slip or shoot off sideways and still pretend he was doing what Jelt wanted, the way he could with anyone else. I don’t want to anyway, he told himself firmly. Jelt is family. He knew better than to trust anything he told himself, though.

Jelt sucks. Also, he’s not much of a main character with how much he appears in the book. Still a major character, but on the spectrum closer to the “supporting characters” section. Anyway, he sucks and is a very not good person, who fully deserves everything that happens to him. His relationship with Hark is very sad, but as someone who has experience from Hark’s end, I feel it’s an accurate representation of an emotionally abusive one.

The REAL other main characters are Quest, an old priest who used to commune with the gods and is a veritable treasure trove of knowledge, and Selphin, the deaf daughter of a gang leader who’s probably the smartest person around. (The rep is great in here by the way.)

“You are still young,” Quest said phlegmatically. “You will find out who you are when your choices will test you. In the end, we are what we do and what we allow to be done.”

I absolutely loved Hark’s relationship with Quest. It really feels like a grandpa telling his grandson stories, and is probably the most wholesome thing in the novel. Hark and Selphin are also interesting in that they’re both very stubborn and butt heads quite often, but their hearts are usually in the right place.

The Setting (is Seriously Unique)

Hardinge really outdoes herself with the setting. I’m not surprised at all, after reading Unraveller, but you can really see that the way she does world building started here.

Like Unraveller, the setting here is truly unique, but instead of a weird, ambivalent forest, there’s a weird, ambivalent ocean. They both are unsettling, and they both do really weird things to people.

I think that Deeplight’s evil ocean (or “the undersea,” as the characters call it) is more disturbing, personally, but I won’t really get into why, cuz I would hate to spoil that for people.

The Story (is Compelling but Strange)

“Most things can be mended in time. Sometimes they are not quite the same as they were before they were broken, but nothing and nobody stays unchanged, anyway.”

Unlike Hardinge’s other work that I’ve read, I was immediately weirded out by Deeplight. I actually almost considered DNF-ing it, because of how off putting it made me feel, but ultimately decided to continue with it. And I’m glad I did. Even though it didn’t quite get four stars from me, it was still a very good book and I’m glad I read it.

Though the plot is strong, I would still say that it’s a more character driven story. The character evolution is also the most compelling part of the book. Though it didn’t make me emotional, it did make me feel things, so that’s a win to me.

The Deep-Sea Descriptions (are Creepy)

Okay, so the Lovecraftian-Subnautica devilspawn sea gods were disturbing. The unnatural descriptions and prose whenever Hardinge had a character describe them… very unsettling.

The way the undersea was described was also not-quite-right feeling. There was an uncanny-ness to the “godware” (the remains of the gods), and how it was repurposed to boost human technology kind of freaked me out.

Final Thoughts

There is always hope. There are always chances.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge was an engaging, but unsettling, dark fantasy novel. I recommend it to everyone, except for those who hate/have a phobia of the deep ocean and deep sea creatures. Also, those who don’t like horror would probably not like this either. But otherwise… yeah.

Thanks for reading, and have a fabulous day/night! Join me next post for more bookish things!

See ya! ~ Mar