Book Reviews

Book Review: Gleam

Title: Gleam
Author: Raven Kennedy
Genre: Mythology, Romance, Fantasy, New Adult

What It’s About: Ten years ago, Auren was in Derfort Harbor daydreaming about escaping from the city, and Zakir, who was using her to make money by selling her to other men. She gets found by him, and taken to The Solitude, the hotel in which she works for him, after he threatens to send her over to Barden East, who supposedly is a meaner flesh trader than Zakir. Zakir basically tells her that he’s kept her in high demand by not making her work as a whore for several years but now that she is, he wants to get every penny’s worth out of her. She ends up going into the hotel to do some work.

Presently, Auren is in shock that Ravinger and Rip are one and the same person, and she gets pissed. She takes it out on him, calling him a liar, though he reminds her that she’s done the same. They get into an argument about her hiding her own Fae heritage, but she snaps back at him saying that he forced her to confront herself, but didn’t tell her who he was. They exchange some words about Midas as Rip wants to know for how long Midas has been playing off her power as his own. Auren screams at him that he’s exactly the same as Midas, lying to her, and she’s so tired of all the manipulation and the deception. Rip thanks her for being so clear to him about what she thinks of him. She realizes that she never really had an ally in him, even though she had hoped that she did. Rip wants to talk to her but Auren accuses him of mindless murder because she’s certain that all of the guards behind the door are dead, while Rip tells her he’s far more interested in her power. She tells him that it was an accident when he asks about the woman she had turned to gold. Auren turns the questions back on Rip, to better understand his powers. She tells him to leave for the second time, and he agrees, but asks her why she was screaming, to which Auren tries to lie, but once again Rip catches her in a lie and flusters her by picking up one of her ribbons and rubbing it. It seems like the ribbon enjoys his touch, and each one of her twenty-four ribbons go languid in relief from his touch. She tells him to leave again, and whatever moment they shared together was broken.

Unfortunately before Rip can leave, Midas is on his way, so Rip changes into his Ravinger form, and they walk out of the walk-in closet. Auren trips over a soldier. She begins to hyperventilate and when reminded by Ravinger to breathe, she tells him that this is not what she wanted; that they men did not deserve this as they were only following orders. Ravinger disagrees because they were keeping her against her will, but he chooses to reawaken them by bringing them up from the dead. Auren asks Ravinger how it is possible, to which he responds that there’s a limit to the bodies after which he cannot bring them back from the dead. Before he’s able to tell her more, Midas comes into the room, and when he notices Ravinger standing there, he is full of rage. He demands to know what is going on, but Ravinger is bored with Midas and unbothered by his anger, and Ravinger plays it off as if he got into the wrong rooms. He also tells Midas that he rotted his guards a little bit but that they will be fine, and Midas tells him that it’s an act of war, but Ravinger tells him that if it was, he would know it. Ravinger then taunts him by asking what it says of Midas that he keeps a woman in a cage? Midas ultimately decides that he can’t fight him, and agrees to let this mistake go as they signed a treaty to be allies.

When Ravinger leaves, Midas calls in ten soldiers, and has them haul the soldiers that were supposed to be protecting Auren off elsewhere to be killed because they witnessed the door turning gold, which they shouldn’t see as it would bust the truth around Midas’ powers. They stare at each other for some time, and when Midas has a bath drawn for Auren, she doesn’t want to do it just because he ordered her. He tells her to go to the cage, but she threatens him that if he throws her into that room and locks her in it, she will never turn another thing gold for him while also fighting him all of the way. He changes tactics to be more kind to her, caressing Auren and apologizing to her, but Auren doesn’t fall for it any longer. She knows that he needs her complacent because if he suddenly stops turning things gold, people will question him. So she agrees to go with him, because she knows she can’t be impulsive, but needs to start planning like Midas so that she can get ahead of him, and out. Midas agrees to let her have her own room without bars, and she falls asleep on the bed next to him.

King Midas sits in a gazebo overlooking the fields of Ranhold, while he goes through his notebook of plans and ideas, only written in a code that he knows. He needs to get Auren back to work by turning things into gold because people are grumbling that he hasn’t turned anything into gold yet, and his excuses are running out of steam. As he looks over the men sculpting the ice, he finds one that looks just like his father, who loathed him. His mother had dumped him on his father’s doorsteps withs some alcohol and coin, and never looked back. His father was always drunk and didn’t like spending money on clothes on Midas. So when Midas became of legal age, he stole a jug of wine, and left it for his dad on the bed, and when he got drunk enough, Midas lit the house on fire, killing his father because it was always so dry in the First Kingdom. He’s interrupted by one of his advisers who tells him that they have a problem with his wife, and gives him the information that Malina ceased all messenger hawks, was seen in the kingdom giving out items to the poor, and wore white. Midas tells his adviser to give him the reports, he’ll look over them, and to remind the people requesting gold that the kingdom is still in mourning, so he will pay whatever debts once the kingdom is no longer in mourning, but to give out whatever gold they have. The adviser tells him that all of the gold was already given out, and adds in that there’s another complication–all of the saddles were checked, and one of them is with child, three months along, which means that the baby is his. Midas dismisses the adviser and thinks it over, how to best proceed from there, and decides that he needs an heir. So he sends a letter to Malina telling her to shut herself into the castle, by saying she is with child.

Malina receives the letter but ignores it as she does not want to be bossed by Midas, and refuses to take on a child that is not hers. Instead, she tries to gain control of the city, but it seems that there are some protests still going on. When that doesn’t get quelled, and Midas finds out that she chose to disobey his orders, he sends a man with magic to end her life. Suddenly, the protests turn violent, and there is a lot of looting, killing, which results in many of the nobles leaving Highbell for the Fifth Kingdom to run away from the chaos of the city. Malina continues to dig her heels in and tells the soldiers to start killing anyone who dares to disobey, which in turn results in the soldiers leaving their posts. Ultimately, the soldiers break through the castle walls, and breach the castle itself. This results in Malina having to flee with her royal saddle as well as with Sir Pruinn, the man who gave her the map. They find themselves in a safehouse that was not kept up and without provisions, so some of her guards have to go look for food, while she continues to complain. The two guards go to check some noise out, but are killed, and so Sir Pruinn, Malina and her saddle try to run away, but the assassin chases them. They have received news that Midas had declared Malina dead, and promised to restore order to the kingdom, so Malina can’t return home. As the assassin chases them, he kills her saddle, but Malina and Pruinn manage to escape into the cold of the sixth kingdom going forward to the Seventh Kingdom, based on Pruinn’s recommendation, because they have nowhere else to go.

Two days after being returned to Midas’ care, Auren wakes up in her new bed. She chooses to break the corsets on the dresses in the fifth kingdom before heading out to explore the castle grounds and the castle itself. While the soldiers don’t agree with her walking around, they weren’t explicitly given orders to make her stay inside her room, so they follow her around showing her the kitchen, and all of the spaces that she wants to see, based on her own decision. Auren doesn’t really tell them what the purpose of that is, but she’s looking for a way out of the castle. Later on Midas has another argument with her and tells her that he does not want her wandering around during the day but compromises in letting her out in the evenings with a guard, which she doesn’t agree to. The next day, she wakes up and is locked in. Since the soldiers won’t let her out, she escapes through her balcony with the help of her ribbons. The first attempt at that doesn’t go well, as she tumbles to the ground in front of Lu who watches her acrobatics, and laughs at her. Auren wanders around the grounds, and finds a secret entry into the Royal Library. She wanders around, trying to find some kind of information, until she’s caught by the scribe, who kicks her out, and she returns to her rooms, which shocks the guards. She also visits the saddles, who still are hostile to her, but she speaks to Rissa, making sure to give her some of the gold and work on a plan to get them both out. She’s looking for a map to find a way out so that they can both escape and get away from Midas.

Midas is furious that she walked around the castle without a care, and continues to tell her that she needs to stay in her room. Auren disregards him, and continues to explore around the castle grounds looking for a way out, and also starts to look for Digby, her old guard, because Midas told her that he has him. She is unable to find him, but does end up running into Ravinger in the Royal Library while looking for maps. The two of them talk, and Ravinger asks her to visit him in the camp the following day, getting Lu to sneak her out. Auren agrees, because she misses everyone from there, so the following day she escapes again from her room, and with Lu’s help she gets out of the castle and into the camp. The gang is reunited with Osrik, Judd, Lu and Rip, and a copycat Rip, who prior to this encounter was someone she saw in the meetings with the kings, and who had carried her to her harp at a dinner in front of King Midas, King Ravinger, and Queen Kaila, who has joined them from the Third Kingdom. It was during that dinner that Midas had tried to get Auren to play her part by making the chalice turn gold, but at first Auren didn’t want to do anything, before she saw the threat in his eyes, and gilded the whole table in front of everyone. They’ve done this trick many times before, but Auren has no interest in continuing to be disrespected by Midas. The reason why Midas had Rip carry her to her harp when Auren didn’t want to go was because she had been so tired one night after turning a room into gold for him that she couldn’t even make it up the stairs, and Commander Rip had been the one who saw her exhaustion, picked her up and took her to her room, where they spent some time together just speaking about being Fae. She still chose Midas, but after that dinner, she decided that she really cared about Rip and wants to be with him.

During her conversation with the men, she reveals that Digby is around but she cannot find him, and they reveal that they have been watching Prince Nieven, the son of King Fulke, because they believe that Midas might make an attempt on his life. When Auren reveals that she would not leave without Digby because he was her first guard whom she really cared for, Rip agrees to have Lu search for Digby while Judd takes over the watch on the Prince. Afterwards, Auren and Rip spend time together in the tent, making love after she reveals her feelings to him, before Auren is returned by Lu to the castle, with the promise that she and Ravinger will meet up in the library the following day. It is there that they encounter Queen Kaila, who reveals that she heard Auren and Lu talking on their way back–after all Kaila has the power to pull words to her and save them for later use, so she knows and finds secrets that she can use for the benefit of her kingdom. The Queen tells Auren that she has to go and begone, or else she will tell Midas what she heard Lu and Auren talking about, revealing captured snippets of the conversation between them, and that Auren had been with Rip. Auren agrees to leave, because that was in her plan anyway but knows that she has to warn Mist because Kaila wants to kill her, which she does, but Mist doesn’t believe her because she thinks that Auren is jealous of her getting the king’s attention.

She returns to her own room for the night, and when she wakes up the next morning, with the intention to escape through the balcony again, she finds that there is a guard there, so she cannot leave. Auren decides instead to ask Rissa to visit her, but Midas intercepts the message and tells her that there’s no need for morning tea as he has work for her. He has Auren gild another room, and promises to take her to Digby, which he does. Auren finds the man so broken and beaten, that she lashes out, but Midas has his men capture her, hold her against the wall, and cuts off all of her ribbons from her back. He then has the main guard who spent time with Auren to put Dew in her mouth–Dew is a powerful drug that makes them languid and also very horny, as Auren has seen when she visited the other saddles in their wing. Auren doesn’t want it, but becomes forced to swallow it, and she doesn’t recall much of the subsequent days, besides Midas touching objects against her skin to turn them gold, and Polly being around to feed her more Dew.

The day of the celebration is when Midas takes her out of her room, and since she’s more compliant now, he has her stand with him at the balcony, after the Dew. Auren knows that something is wrong but her mind is so boggled that she doesn’t know what. Midas has her gild the balcony and some of the room as part of the trick to show off his power, while also announcing his engagement to Queen Kaila. She sees Rissa, who came to grab Polly after Midas realizes that there’s something off about Auren, and she knows that they were supposed to do something together but wasn’t sure what, so she tells Rissa to go ahead without her. Midas forces her to sit down on the chair, and ties one of the ribbons to her hand, leaving her confused, before heading down to the grand ballroom. She sees Ravinger in the distance, and suddenly the fog clears up, she makes the connection of what was going to happen tonight for her.

He sees her on the balcony and begins to make his way towards her when Midas calls him back for a toast. They drink and Nieven starts to choke on his alcohol, with black marks showing up across his body. People begin to shout that Ravinger killed their King, and Midas tries to hold Ravinger for the accusations, but Auren realizes what is going on. She gets between Midas and Ravinger before anything else can be done, acting as a shield for Ravinger. Midas demands for her to get away from Ravinger and come to him, but Auren tells him never, and she tells him that she won’t let him take Ravinger too. She tells the whole room that Ravinger didn’t kill the prince, but that Midas did, so Midas has the whole room cleared, while stalking towards her. It finally sinks in to Midas what Auren has said, and she follows that up by saying that Ravinger is hers. Suddenly, the fake Rip shows up dragging Digby with him, saying that it sure as hell wasn’t him. It’s the first time that Auren sees him, because he’s not wearing a helmet, and she realizes that he is Slade’s brother. Midas commands Auren to come to him, but she says that they’re leaving, and when he threatens her, Queen Kaila says to let her go.

Auren tells him that she’s done, and it’s over. Because the one thing that has kept her tied to him was the fact that he had saved her, but it wasn’t true. Midas was formerly known as Barden East in Dertfort Harbor, owning half the saddles business in the city, and he had sent his men to speak with Auren so that she could come to his side, but then she escaped by running onto a boat and running away. He searched for her far and wide, found her not too far from Carnith Village. At the time, Auren had believed that raiders had attacked her new home after her run from Carnith, and he had come riding in to save them. But the truth was that he had his own gang of men split up in half with one half being the raiders, the others the saviors, and had them kill each other, cutting his connection with the past, so no one could tell her that he was Barden East and searching for her. He had found the whole thing at Carnith and knew he struck gold, that she would be his foot into the door that will enable him to control more of the world, as he wanted to be someone far removed from his drunkard father.

Midas threatens her, Ravinger steps up for her, but Auren tells him that she doesn’t need him defending her. But then Midas lets her go, since she wants to be Ravinger’s whore, but a split second later, Midas’ soldiers are fighting the Wrath, distracting her. That is when Midas grabs her against his chest, puts a knife to her throat, and tells Ravinger that if he uses his magic, he will slice her open. Digby and Auren lock eyes remembering the whole Fulke situation, except right now Digby cannot do anything. Ravinger tells Midas that he won’t kill her, and Midas tells him that if he can’t have her no one can, demanding that Ravinger leave with his men. Slade looks at Auren and tells her to use her ribbons, to which she says she can’t, and Midas tells him that she lost that privilege, motioning to her left hand where one of the ribbons is tied. As Auren closes her eyes, listening to Midas tell Ravinger he has ten seconds to get out, she hears a raging snapping beast inside of her, whose screech shatters everything inside of Auren. When she reopens her eyes, she calls to the magic ruled by her, even though Midas stole her ribbons, and the night stole the sun so she can’t use her gold touch. Everything that is gilded in this castle is hers, and it responds to her–the floor melts, the walls bleed, and every piece of furniture and cutlery turns malleable, melted by her. People scream when the metal liquifies off of their bodies, or get trapped in the floor as they attempt to run away. Even the blade at her throat melts causing Midas to back up, and she makes the gold on the wall come out and grab him, hold onto him, as she slowly turning the room into a bloodbath, killing every single guard there, but not hurting Ravinger or his Wrath. Midas calls to her, and pleads with her to let him go, that she doesn’t want to do this, to which Auren responds that she does, tells him that she’s not his precious when he calls her that, and adds that he can’t expect a puppet with cut off strings to move for him. Then she melts his golden crown, gives him a kiss on his cheek while saying goodbye, and encases him completely in gold, killing him.

She continues to wreck havoc, but gets stopped by Slade.

In the meantime, Slade is not prone to feeling panic, but when Midas grabs Auren, putting a blade to her throat, panic becomes him. None of his Wrath move, not giving Midas a reason to hurt Auren. He tries to intimidate Midas, and when that doesn’t work, he tries to get Auren to use her ribbons, because he knows that Midas is crazy enough to actually go ahead with slicing her open. He doesn’t understand when Auren says that she can’t, and when Midas tells him that she lost that privilege, Slade goes still. He sees the ribbon on Auren’s wrist, and expects it to move, but it doesn’t move at all, and he then notices the severed end with drips of blood. He suddenly realizes what Midas has taken from Auren, feeling gutted. Midas gives him ten seconds to leave, saying that Auren is helpless and will die at his hand if Ravinger forces it. Slade is upset that he’s failed her, and he can’t leave her, but he also can’t risk Midas killing Auren either. Then he notices a change in Auren’s eyes, and a flare up in her aura–the only warning he gets before everything in the palace begins to melt. Everyone else tries to flee, but his Wrath come close to him, and Judd mentions that Auren has snapped. Slade watches her aura carefully because it’s flashing a lot–the hysteria worries him–and he tells his wrath to leave, including his brother Ryatt, who is holding Digby. He assures his Wrath that Auren won’t hurt him, even as she kills a guard right in front of them. Slade continues to watch as Auren kisses Midas on the cheek, and as her gold slithers, moves and then begins to devour Midas. He’s shocked at how fast it kills Midas, trapping him in the metal that he coveted so much. The Wrath leave after witnessing that, and Digby says “good” in response to Osrik’s comment that she killed Midas. They walk slowly, but when the gold doesn’t attack them at all, they leave the palace completely. Slade walks towards her, and block Auren as she attempts to leave the room. He calls to her, worried about how her strength seems to be sapping, and when she finally surfaces he tells her to drop the magic because it’s draining her. But it’s clear that Auren has no idea how to do it, and so out of fear that she will kill herself, he asks her to forgive him before kissing her. Through this kiss, he uses his power to force her into a stasis between life and decay, making his power to rot her from within, even though he’s terrified that he will hurt her by doing something wrong. When her aura is nothing but a wisp, she slumps against him, and he takes her in his arm, running out of the castle with her. He follows Osrik out the door, as the gold in all of the castle groans to a stop and solidifies against the doors.

The Wrath look down at Auren, and Osrik asks if she’s okay, to which Slade doesn’t know the answer. Digby then comes up to her, and glares at Slade telling him to fix her, with such fierceness in his tone that surprises Slade. But he’s still so terrified, because he’s not sure if he did more harm or more good. All Slade knows is that he needs to take her out and get her away from all of this. The group heads off towards camp, and Ry asks Slade what he wants to do. Slade considers his options, tells them that they need to leave now, ordering his men to get the army back to Fourth, because as soon as the panic abates, there are going to be questions, and accusations. The Dead can’t talk but Queen Kaila can because she saw it all happen.

My Thoughts: What a Revelation of a book! We find out so much about Midas and learn that he truly is a villain, through his thoughts and actions throughout the book; a man who does not show any remorse for his actions. A man who uses things or people as a means to an end. He used Auren for her gold to get married to Queen Malina, to control a kingdom, and then continues to manipulate Auren’s fear of the outside world that has abused her so that he can continue to control her. He’s followed Auren from Dertfort Harbor across the Orean continent, killed his own men to hide his past, and continues to do anything to have her compliant. When he realizes he cannot have her, he is willing to kill her, but when she rises against him, he begs her to let him go.

We see Auren grow–she gets stronger from her exercise, more demanding to be free the way she wants to, while also realizing that she has to play the game to find Digby and get herself and Rissa out. We see her fight back, even when she’s weakened, and horrifically she gets maimed, and drugged to do to the will of whatever Midas might want. But in the end she gives him a fitting coffin–being encased in the metal he loved for all eternity.

For the first time we hear from Slade, at the end of the book, and I cannot wait to learn more about him. More about his motivations, and why he’s so taken with Auren. I believe that he knows a lot more about who Midas is than he has revealed, and I hope to see that in the next book, but also the book that Auren steals from the Royal Library about the Fae…it holds a clue to who they are to each other. To be seen in the next book.

I really truly recommend this series if you are interested in Mythology and fantasy–this is an amazing series to follow.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.