Title: State of Sorrow
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Series: Sorrow, #1
Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books
Release Date: March 1st 2018
Sorrow—for that is all she brings us.
A people laid low by grief and darkness.
A cut-throat race for power and victory.
A girl with everything and nothing to lose…
By day, Sorrow governs the Court of Tears, covering for her grief-maddened father, who has turned their once celebrated land into a living monument for the brother who died before she was born.
By night, she seeks solace in the arms of the boy she’s loved since childhood. But one ghost won’t stop haunting her, and when enemies old and new close ranks against her, Sorrow must decide how far she’s willing to go to win…
Be swept away by the dark and dangerous new world from Melinda Salisbury, bestselling author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
For eighteen years, ever since the day her brother Mael fell to his death, Sorrow’s father has grieved. He turned their once bright country into mourning, its people forbidden to laugh or enjoy the arts, while he drowns himself in Lamentia to keep the grief fresh. The council proposes Sorrow take control of Rhannon, disposing her father, but on the eighteenth anniversary of Mael’s death the half-brother to the Queen of Rhylla, Rhannon’s neighbouring country, comes forward with news that throws Sorrow and her people into turmoil.
State of Sorrow had a strong premise, and I really enjoyed Melinda Salisbury’s first trilogy so I wanted to really enjoy this one too. While there were quite a few things I did enjoy, the political challenges Sorrow found herself facing and her campaign for governance of Rhannon, there was too much I wasn’t interested in at all. There were so many subplots that it felt like too much was crammed into one book, and in the end none of it was given the development it needed in order for me to actually care about the outcome.
As Sorrow begins her campaign she’s desperate to discover Vespus’s plans before it’s too late. She isn’t as easily convinced as her people and her father seem to be. However some of the citizens of Rhannon aren’t content with giving another Ventaxis control of the country, not after what they have suffered under Sorrow’s father and his father before them, and while Sorrow digs deeper and deeper into Vespus, the Sons of Rhannon prove themselves willing to do anything to further their message.
There was a lot happening in this book; the main plot was Sorrow competition to become chancellor of Rhannon but we also followed Sorrow’s investigation into Vespus and her broken relationship with her best friend and lover, along with a few twists thrown in to keep the readers hooked. One of the revelations at the end, as Sorrow finally realises Vespus’s plan, ended up actually being really disappointing and more anticlimactic than anything else.
Sorrow was actually a brilliantly developed character. Ever since her grandmother died she’s carried the weight of her father; keeping up appearances and the day-to-day running of Rhannon, and lying to the people about her father’s addiction. At first Sorrow isn’t sure if she’s ready to become chancellor of Rhannon, it’s thrust on her shoulders and she isn’t sure she knows enough to be a good leader when there is so much her grandmother took on which Sorrow is only now realising.
As the story continues, as Sorrow sees more of Rhannon and its people the more she wants to become chancellor. She comes up with so many ideas as to how she can improve things for her people, how she can lead them out of the grief her father threw them into when he lost Mael.
The relationship Sorrow has with her father isn’t much of a relationship at all, but it was an interesting dynamic to see play out. Even though he lost his son and wife days apart Harun still had a daughter, but Sorrow was never enough for her father and the two are more strangers than father and daughter. Sorrow hates Harun for what he’s done, losing himself in Lamentia, but she’s still had a family in her grandmother, her best friends Irris and Rasmus, and Charon, her father’s vice chancellor.
There were some incredible secondary characters in this book. One, and I can’t reveal his name because it spoils part of the story, I would have loved to see more of, especially because his relationship with Sorrow was so interesting to read in light of what his appearance in this book means for her and her plans to become chancellor of Rhannon. I loved Luvian Fey who is Sorrow’s campaign advisor, but I wasn’t a fan of Rasmus at all. He bored me both as an individual character and as a romantic interest for Sorrow.
While I think the concept of the world had a lot of potential it ended up being really confusing as I was reading State of Sorrow. The countries of Rhannon and Rhylla have similar names and it took me a while to differentiate between the two, especially in the first chapter where Salisbury introduced the setting and the situation so we understood more of Sorrow’s situation eighteen years down the line. One thing I did think was done well, and this is something that was done well in The Sin-Eater’s Daughter trilogy as well, was the development of the history and culture of Rhannon. It was detailed and gave me a real sense of understanding as to what Sorrow and her people have struggled with over the past eighteen years and before that as well.
I think State of Sorrow had a good premise; there was a lot of potential in the story, the characters, and the world but it wasn’t ever realised. There was too much trying to happen in terms of the plot that the development of the characters and the setting fell down, and as a result I really struggled to care about any of it.
What did you think of State of Sorrow? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.