Thank you to Edelweiss for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
The desert has taken Badriya’s mother, her friends, and even her freedom. Using her magic and alchemy, she desperately tries to save the one thing that the sands have not stolen: her future.
Badriya has a debt to pay.
The beautiful oasis city of Aran lies at the center of the Lost, a desert haunted by ghosts, demons, and Witches of the Lost who prey on unwary souls. Badriya and her mother, having been exiled from their home on the coast, flee to the desert city for a new start. But after losing her mother to the desert—and the King and Queen of Aran dying swiftly after—Badriya is forced to live in the dark shadow of the new Queen, Solena.
Working as her assassin, Badriya is tasked with poisoning the Queen’s unwanted suitors, rivals in love, and anyone else who dares to cross her. When a potential suitor and his advisor visit the palace, Badriya becomes tangled in a web of secrets and deceit. Desperate to return to her seaside home, Badriya finds herself torn between protecting Princess Najma, releasing her mother’s soul from the Lost, and securing her own freedom. The silver she earns from her potions and cosmetics will pave the way, but she must remember: magic has its price.
Court of Venom is a face-paced fantasy novel set in an oasis. All around this oasis sits a cursed desert called The Lost. The main character, Badriya, has become an unwilling assassin to the queen. She does what she must to collect money to free her mother’s soul from The Lost. The queen is a nasty piece of work who asks Badriya to murder people for the smallest of slights.
This book is quite short, but it is quite the ride. Kristin Burchell’s writing is atmospheric and absolutely gorgeous. Throughout the entire novel, you really feel as if you are there with Badriya, living in the middle of a desert. As a main character, Badriya is quite melancholy and desperate, with good reason that I won’t get into here as it’s a spoiler.
I have minor complaints about only a couple of things —
1. The love interest comes into the novel quite late — I wish he’d been introduced earlier. As the book is so short, it feels as if we barely spend time with him before everything is over.
2. I wish there had been a map included somewhere of all the locations mentioned in the novel. It would have helped situate where things were, and why some alliances were needed/wanted.
Overall, Court of Venom is a good read. Not great, not world-changing, but good.
Court of Venom comes out April 5, 2022.
Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links: