*I was sent a copy of Extasia in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to HarperCollins and Claire Legrand*
CW: violence, gore, sexual assault, religious trauma, cultism, cannibalism
Her name is unimportant.
All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain—an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.
She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.
Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?
Even as I write this review I am unsure of whether I actually liked this book. Honestly, it took me quite a while to get through it and because of this, I found it very hard to connect with the story. Well, that and because of the violence against women, this is not an easy read. Don’t get me wrong this book is very well written and often it read like poetry but don’t go into it thinking you will finish it feeling happy, you will definitely feel emotion, but not one of happiness.
Extasia is definitely an interesting read. The storyline is one of reclaiming power and finding your true family. This sounds very endearing and at times it was, but the journey to get there was very dark and extremely violent. Which I have no problem with but if you are someone that dislikes gore and graphic descriptions of violence then this is not the book for you.
I knew this story was based around religion but I didn’t realise just how deep it would go. Because of this, I was often lost on what was happening as I didn’t understand some of the terminology used. If you are someone that is put off by religion in books then I suggest you keep a wide berth of Extasia. Religion is its main theme and it is not one born of kindness.
Women are treated especially badly, obviously, this does not reflect the author’s views nor does it make this a bad book, but it was quite unsettling. Once chosen to be a saint a woman will spend the rest of her days atoning for her neighbour’s sins through the form of physical abuse. Honestly, it was shocking that these women could take so much abuse and never question their beliefs.
One part I did like was that even though this book is heavily steeped in religion it did have a few LGBTQ+ characters. These were not accepted by most, including the main character to begin with, but the inclusion of these characters was imperative to the story and lit the spark of “rebellion” that was desperately needed in Haven.
Surprisingly I had little to no interest in the ‘witches’ of this book. Usually magic is my favourite part of any book, but it didn’t excite me in any way. All magic used in this book was a form of violence. Again nothing against the violence but it did get a bit much at times.
There were a few instances of sexual acts by characters which I am 99% sure are minors. I know the main character is 16 which is legal in the UK but it made me uncomfortable nonetheless. Especially when some of these acts were committed by her younger sister. I do understand that these are used to show the corruption of men and how rigid their society is but it just didn’t sit right with me.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for these scenes I probably would have enjoyed Extasia more, but they made me so uncomfortable and the fact they are minors is not something I can look past.
For this reason, I will be rating Extasia a very generous three stars. It was very well written and the story had a lot of promise despite a slightly lacklustre ending.
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