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Jessamine

by Barbara G. Tarn

genre: fantasy

Synopsis from Goodreads

In the fantasy world of Silvery Earth, a young queen has to learn the hard way how to live and reign. This is the story of Queen Jessamine, from her Rite night at fourteen to war and exile, prisoner of a foreign king, to her comeback to her home country some thirteen years later. Not much magic, but not our planet anyway.
Adult readers for mild sex and violence.

Review contains material that may be too mature for young readers.
Review contains spoilers.

Review

I grabbed this book completely impulsively because it was free on Amazon (and it had a pretty cover).  Looking back, I’m not even sure I read the synopsis because I was completely uncomfortable with a fourteen year old losing her virginity in the opening scene and then taking a 25 year old lover a few pages later.  While the latter was her choice, and she was not protesting the Rite, all I could think about were the Girls Not Brides and Girl Effect campaigns I support.

Then she’s taken prisoner, raped and impregnated by a man who thinks he loves her.  While I hope that was commentary from the POV of the rapist, and not the author, the concept that kidnapping, keeping someone in a cage, and raping them but also being doting and not looking when they change clothes is not the same love, did not come up in the book.  It gave me an uncomfortable prickle.

It was almost a two star read.  The writing, ignoring the content, was well written, well edited, and well formatted.  I couldn’t justify a 1 star review until the end.  When Jessamine is freed and returns home, she faces her attacker in the arena.  She is supposed to be an Amazon warrior, and he has been kept in a cage without much food or water for days, beaten, dragged around, and abused, but he “lets her kill him.” I could have pulled my hair out.  Jessamine resisted Stockholm syndrom for four years in his capture and defies him in various ways during her captivity, but the author can’t let her kill him outright.

Ugh.

1 star

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