Today is my stop on the Blog tour for the Jealousy of Jalice by Jesse Nolan Bailey, organised by Xpresso Book Tours. This is a book that had been on my radar for a while as part of SPFBO 6, and I had already fallen in love with the cover and the premise so I leapt at a chance to read it as part of the tour, and discovered one of my top books for 2020.
I hope that you will check out the author and book, as well as the other blogs on the tour (You can find the schedule HERE). There is also a giveaway where you can get your hands on your own copy of the book and some other goodies (Please note this is US only), and the link to that can be found at the bottom of the page.
The Realms have split apart, the Stones of Elation have been hidden, and warnings of dokojin drift among the tribes.
The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame.
It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem.
Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia’s delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land.
Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice’s past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it
It has been a little while since I’ve felt this smitten (and that’s the only word for it) with a book. The Jealousy of Jalice, already had my attention with that fantastic cover and the premise, and the writing sealed the deal because it is pretty much as close to perfection as you can get, especially for a debut. There’s no wasted words, and this is a book that has been crafted without losing any of it’s flow or impact for being so deliberately written, and those moments where the writing does veer into the more lyrical are all the more vivid because of it, especially as they were expertly timed to create moments where the writing, combined with the narrative just took your breath away (just writing this is already making me want to reread it). As much as I love worldbuilding and great characters, prose like this is what will get me every time, and Bailey’s writing had therefore already propelled this book to being one of my favourites, but even better it’s a package deal, because the worldbuilding was excellent, the characters were superb (if not always likeable) and it had a wonderful range of diversity.
Now, a fair warning, The Jealousy of Jalice is incredibly brutal in places, and deliciously dark throughout, riding the line of horror and fantasy perfectly, with a healthy dose of gore. It will not be for everyone, but that places it firmly in the kind of fantasy that I enjoy.
This book also isn’t one to show mercy to the reader. This is one of those books where you are thrown in the deep end from the start, and as such there’s a space towards the start where you won’t understand everything that is going on, but it felt very much deliberate and well done in this case. You’re not supposed to have all the answers at the start, and while that could be frustrating for some, it left me wanting more and I had to keep reading to discover more about the world, the characters and the plot, until I forgot any confusion or questions and was completely lost in the book. Even better – while there are some areas that I would love to see expanded on in future books – you are rewarded for that effort, with a fantastic, non-traditional story and a world that you will want to spend a lot longer in.
In addition to this sink or swim beginning, the pacing throughout the Jealousy of Jalice is largely breakneck – in the sense of a rollercoaster that you can’t get off, but also don’t want to get off. A lot happens in this book, and there are layers upon layers in every aspect of the narrative, and that makes for a complex but immersive read, because I wanted to unravel the web and find the answers. At no point did the pacing feel too overwhelming though, because for all the action there was plenty of quiet moments to catch your breath, and just revel in the characters, writing and atmosphere.
In terms of characters, I don’t think there was a single character that didn’t have a unique voice. As mentioned above this was a diverse book which is something I am looking for more and more in fantasy these days, and this book had it all – LGBTQIA+, different races and identities and strong female characters, that were well written and added another layer to this world by offering a wide range of experiences and perspectives. I adored Annilasia and Jalice, even if I didn’t always like them, they were well written, with very individual voices, who reflected the world that had produced them and are excellent examples of how dislikeable characters can still be utterly enthralling.
The worldbuilding reflected the rest of the book, in that it was complex, well written with some truly beautiful writing. It is also the area that I would like to see expanded most, because it is such an interesting world with magic, other realms, being balanced with the world and the people that live there, and I do have some unanswered questions, although I am happy to wait (albeit impatiently) for the next book so that I can delve in and continue exploring the world.
I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone who loves stellar prose, dark fantasy at its best, with a story that takes the mold, breaks it and turns it into something that takes your breath away.
About the Author:
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel finally released to the masses, he can now claim such title with relief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats.
The Jealousy of Jalice (A Disaster of Dokojin #1) – Jesse Nolan Bailey – ***** (5/5 Stars)
Tour-wide giveaway (US only)
- Hardback copy of The Jealousy of Jalice (signed by author)
- Wooden bookmark
- TJOJ bookmark
- Bloodspill enamel pin
- Art print of Flayer
- TJOJ mousepad
Or you can enter the giveaway HERE
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.