Skyseeker’s Princess (Songs of Si’Empra: Book 1) by Miriam Verbeek

Publisher: Independently Published

Date of publication: May 14th, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Trigger Warnings: Incest (off page, remembered), Sexual abuse of a teenager (off page, remembered), Rape (off page, remembered), Depression (off page, remembered), Grief (on page), Assualt ending in mutilation (on page), Mental Illness (on page), Gun violence (on-page)

Series: Songs of Si’Empra

Skyseeker’s Princess—Book 1

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

The cold, stark but beautiful Si’Empra island is dying … Ellen doesn’t think she can help but others believe she’s their only hope.

Ellen’s trained to be the next ruler but her brother’s taken the throne. He’s fiercely determined to possess her body and soul … and she’s horrified. She runs away, aiming to lead a peaceful life far from the clutches of power. But the people or Si’Empra are struggling to survive, their unique societies pitched against one another. Cryptals are key to the land’s survival and subtly nudge Ellen towards healing Si’Empra’s wounds. Duty runs deep in Ellen’s veins. The question is whether reluctance or duty will triumph. In this first book of the Si’Empra series, Ellen tinkers at the margins with challenge, gaining unexpected allies and dangerous enemies.

Get your copy of Skyseeker’s Princess today and dive into the extraordinary world of Si’Empra.

First Line:

The sun was at noon by the time Ellen felt strong enough to crawl to the river for a wash.

Skyseeker’s Princess by Miriam Verbeek

Ellen has dared to escape from her abusive older brother and ruler of Si’Empra Island. Running away was her solution to her situation. But it wasn’t. Her people were suffering, and the island’s native creatures, the Cryptals, were being hunted to almost extinction. It is the Cryptals who save Ellen, and it is the Cryptals who start pushing Ellen toward healing Si’Empra’s wounds. But the question is, will Ellen do it? Or will she ignore what the Cryptals, the Crystalweavers, and the WebCleaners have told her? Can she save Si’Empra from her brother?

When the publisher approached me to read and review Skyseeker’s Princess, I immediately accepted. I was intrigued by the blurb, and I like the cover. I figured the storyline could, too, if both could catch my attention. And it did. I couldn’t put this book down!!!

There are trigger warnings in Skyseeker’s Princess. I will warn that these triggers can be more triggering to people than usual. The author did a great job describing what happened to Ellen without going into much detail.

The triggers are:

  1. Incest (off-page and remembered): Ellen’s mother married her stepson to keep him from touching Ellen. After Ellen’s mother died when she was fourteen, Redel started raping Ellen.
  2. Sexual abuse (off-page and remembered): Ellen was being sexually abused by Redel when her mother stepped in and married him. When her mother died, Redel upped the sexual abuse to rape. There were also vague worries that Redel was sexually abusing his four-year-old daughter.
  3. Rape (off-page and remembered): Ellen was raped repeatedly for years by Redel. Muther (Richard’s mother) was raped after her mutilation and gave birth to Richard.
  4. Depression (off-page and remembered): Ellen suffered from depression while being raped by Redel.
  5. Grief (on-page, off-page, and remembered): Ellen grieves the loss of her mother and father throughout the book. Ellen’s grandmother remembers grieving for her daughter and grieving for Ellen’s lost innocence. Ellen grieves for the lower caste people, and Cryptals hunted like animals by Redel.
  6. Assault ending in mutilation (off-page and remembered): Muther, a high-ranking official in the King’s court, was attacked on a beach. Somebody gouged her eyes out and cut off her hands and feet.
  7. Mental Illness (on-page): One of Redel’s advisor’s wife is mentally ill. She hears voices and sees imaginary people. Redel is mentally ill. He suffers from what I believe is hyperreligiosity and OCD.
  8. Gun Violence (on-page): Guns are used throughout the book to kill Cryptals, Crystalweavers, and Webcleaners. One memorable scene is where Redel goes into the tunnels and massacres the people living there with semi-automatic weapons. Ellen is shot several times by Redel’s supporters while traveling through the wooded areas.

If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading the book.

Skyseeker’s Princess is a medium-paced book that got off to a slow start. While I’m not too fond of slow starts, in this case, it worked. The author laid out Ellen’s backstory and some of the history of Si’Empra Island. The pacing does pick up towards the end of the book, but it never goes fast enough to confuse me or make me backtrack.

Skyseeker’s Princess is set on a fictional island off the coast of Antarctica. From the descriptions, it is closer to New Zealand than Chile, but I could be wrong. I was fascinated by the island and its geography. There were forests, lakes, rivers, and intricate cave systems. The author didn’t cover half of what this island offers.

The main storyline of Skyseeker’s Princess centers around Ellen. Ellen’s journey to self-acceptance and healing was heartbreaking and unforgettable. I got why she didn’t initially want to help the Crystalmakers or the Cryptals. But once she saw what her brother was doing, she decided to help. The turning point for her was two things. One is the over-taxation of villages and Redel’s horrific attack on the Crystalmakers. Ellen realized that she couldn’t just stand by and let her people starve, and she couldn’t let innocent people be slaughtered. That was when she turned into a leader in my eyes.

I liked Ellen. While I did feel horror (for what was done to her) and pity, the fact that she overcame that was amazing. I understood why she didn’t want to help anyone at first. People just stood by or turned the other way when Redel was raping her. But Ellen was a good person who didn’t let other people get hurt. A reasonable person also fights for people being oppressed. By the end of the book, I loved her. She was indeed the ruler Si’Empra needed, not her abuser of a brother.

As much as I despised Redel, I found the chapters from his perspective very interesting. He was obsessed with Ellen. His obsession then turned to religion. I could see his slide into madness every time the author returned to his POV. What got me was that this small, tiny piece of him knew what he was doing was wrong. But the mentally ill part of him drowned that part of him out. I am very interested to see what he will do in book 2.

The Cryptals, as did the lore that sprung up around them, fascinated me. There were no descriptions of what they looked like, except that they looked like wild animals. They were the ones that initially saved Ellen at the beginning of the book. They were also the ones that gave Ellen her pet dinosaur, Rosa.

I wish there were a glossary at the book’s beginning or end. There was so much lore that I couldn’t keep track of it all.

The end of Skyseeker’s Princess ended on a cliffhanger. I wouldn’t say I like cliffhangers. They irritate me and make me want to throw things. But, in this case, it did its job. I need to read book 2 to see what Ellen will do. Plus, there was a neat reveal about Muther’s identity, too, which makes me wonder if she will be a more prominent presence in book 2.

I would recommend Skyseeker’s Princess to anyone over 21. There is mild language, violence, and nongraphic sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning list.

Many thanks to Miriam Verbeek for allowing me to read and review Skyseeker’s Princess. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Skyseeker’s Princess, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Miriam Verbeek:

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