The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. ★★★
The Broken Kingdoms is the second in Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy. Despite that, I believe that you could read The Broken Kingdoms independently of its predecessor, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. However, I did like The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms better, so I would suggest starting with that book.
The plot springs from Oree Shoth, a blind artist, taking in a homeless man. If you’ve read the first book, you can probably guess who he is. From there, Oree becomes caught up in a conspiracy involving murdered godlings.
Unfortunately, I found this plot rather dull. Oree seems to stumble from one event to the next, and a lot of potentially interesting things happen off page.
Speaking of Oree, I’m not so sure about her being a blind painter. I can understand how she “sees” magic, as I’m guessing that magic is something actually perceived by senses other than sight. However, she also conveniently sees her own paintings? I guess the explanation for this is that her paintings are magic (presumably?), but at a certain point a blind character being able to see things like this becomes questionable. It also feels like she’s using the trope of “the blind can see things other people can’t.”
I didn’t find the romance scenes as bothersome as in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but that’s not saying much. I did skip one scene near the end, but the rest were at least readable. I think the problem is that you know practically from the get go who Oree’s going to end up with, even if it makes zero sense. The romance is then foisted in with tired old tropes like “love interest is injured and must be warmed with body heat!” This is entirely groan worthy and characterizes most of Jemisin’s attempts to write romance.
On the bright side, I loved the descriptions of the city, which is overshadowed by a giant tree. Jemisin really managed to create the feel of a strange and magical place.
Anway, overall I felt lukewarm about The Broken Kingdoms. I will read the sequel, and hopefully I’ll like it more. I guess I would recommend The Broken Kingdoms to people looking for an urban fantasy that’s a bit different or to people who want to know more about the world of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.