fantasy - ya - dragons - feminism - adventure - magic - shapeshifters
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Published: January 2019.
Genres: Young adult / dark fantasy / romance
Pages: 374.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Fantasy violence / sexual innuendos.
Format: ARC eBook.
Source: Thank you so much to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

A dragon can be loyal forever, if you tame her first. But Sigrid would sooner be dead than tamed.

Dragon shifter Sigrid of Wildewyn has spent her life in a cage, quite literally. Whether she's hidden from her own people, or masked so they cannot see her face, she's dedicated her life to her country and king. But, when her king promises her to a rival warlord and Sultan of a country she hates, her loyalty is tested. 

Nadir of Bymere was the boy king no one ever thought would sit on the throne. And though he knows his country is ruled by corrupt advisors, he's lost himself in the glory of being Sultan. When they force him to marry a masked woman from the country who murdered his brother, he's set to torture her for a lifetime. Both hiding their own secrets, the two slowly realize there is more to both their kingdoms than they originally thought. With many in the kingdom who need help, Sigrid and Nadir must choose who they truly ally with: each other…or their kingdoms. Their choice will put either their hearts or their lives at risk. 

I never used to understand readers' obsessions with dragons. But after reading this book, I can say I get it. I finally get it. We need more dragons in YA literature.

Emma Hamm has a beautiful way with words. Her descriptions are utterly spellbinding, and I couldn't help but be drawn into the depths of each one. The descriptions of the palace's interior, in particular, are enough to make you dreamy. They're so exotic and unique.
The action is also terrific. It's bloody, it's brisk, and it spits fire. The urgency is there, the personality is there, and the choreography is brilliant.

Hamm always creates such amazing worlds and cultures. They're always rich and original. The world in this book is Arabian inspired, with many different towns and kingdoms, and has a fascinating, well-drawn history and a diverse people. Wildewyn and Bymere are the two predominant kingdoms. The Beastkin, Sigrid's people, are prized female shapeshifters who reside with the Earthen folk in Wildewyn, while the Sultan and his people live in the city of Bymere.

I love exploring new worlds and cultures, and this one is exhilaratingly vivid.

  She was beautiful. But more than that, she was dangerous." 

The plot could be tighter. The incidents could also be more strongly connected. However, the story is still endlessly engrossing. There's enough to keep you riveted and entertained, all the while teasing you with twisty politics and court intrigue. It draws you in effortlessly - I lost myself in the tale and had so much fun.

Unfortunately, there are a few small contradictions in the story. For example, Nadir mentions that Sigrid is fair and pale, but in a later section of the book Sigrid says that this little girl's skin is as dark as her own. It doesn't make sense. There's also the many times when Nadir worries about the fact that his people hate Sigrid, but then again, he mentions at other times how they seem to adore her. It's contradictions like this that irritate me.

I am quiet." She folds her hands in front of her. "But that is not a weakness."

Sigrid and Nadir are both strong protagonists. Sigrid's fierce but vulnerable, impulsive but insecure, and Nadir's arrogance and immaturity hides his deep insecurities. They compliment each other well, and I enjoyed watching the push-pull of their relationship, not to mention how it's affected by their divided loyalties. I can't wait to see how that they handle that dynamic in Book 2.

The only thing I don't like about Sigrid's character is how everyone seems to put her on a pedestal. Even her enemies admire her and are in awe of her. The common people of Bymere easily warm to her, Nadir is head over heels stunned by her, her sisters are loyal to her, the children idealise her, and everyone agrees she's unstoppable and unbeatable and the strongest of all the shapeshifters. Personally, it's annoying.

I must also mention the dragon aspect of this story because how can I not. It's a book about dragons. (It's a darn good book about dragons, too). So let me just say: when Sigrid turned into a dragon for the first time, my eyes were literally glued to the page. The scene is simply magnificent.  Hamm's writing embodies the experience, the atmosphere, and the characters so, so well, and it's an incredible, consuming moment. I adored it. Now I need more dragon books.

Seas of Crimson Silk is a captivating, magical beginning to what promises to be an epic series. It's the YA dragon tale you've all been waiting for. It will not disappoint.