Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian. ★★★★
The premise of Cobweb Bride is simple: one day Death announces that until his cobweb bride is delivered to him, all death will cease. And cease it does – people continue to die in that their hearts will stop beating and their limbs will stiffen, but their souls and consciousnesses will not move on. They are trapped without relief in their dead bodies. Neither the ill nor the mortally wounded are able to pass on, but must remain trapped until death begins again.
Cobweb Bride is epic in scope, with a wide number of characters with differing positions in life and responses to the crisis. However, the clear protagonist is Percy (short for Persephone), an unwanted village girl who sets out along with a multitude of other girls to find Death and present herself as a possible cobweb bride.
I’ll admit, I was hesitant going in. I worried that it would be too much of a romance, but as I read, my fears faded away. Cobweb Bride is clearly an epic or historical fantasy and a good one at that. The writing was simply gorgeous. Nazarian’s lyrical words carried me away to a land of bitter cold, dark forests, and opulent palaces.
All of the characters connected with me. Percy was determined and perspicacious, able to see things that none of the other characters could. Throughout the book, she was brave and generous. In short, she was a genuinely likable protagonist.
However, Percy’s story is just one of many. There’s the three spoiled court nobles who make their way North to Death’s domain, the king-in-waiting whose mother is stuck on the very edge of death, two battling armies who discover that they are unable to die, a son still devotedly serving his undead father, and Claere, heir to the empire who’s assassinated at her birthday party. Claere was favorite character. Before her death, she was sickly and weak, but afterwards she realized that she had nothing to fear. I will note that some people may find her romance plot troubling, but I didn’t have a problem with it.
I found this an excellent book and am planning on reading the next in the trilogy. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for good female characters, beautiful writing or just an enjoyable read.