Summary: In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.Publication date: 30/06/16
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Hope and Red is an adult high fantasy with cross over appeal. It features pirates, thieves, and the beginnings of an awesome romance. It wasn't on my radar until Erin from WrathsQueen's Books mentioned it in one of her wrap up videos. After hearing how much she loved it I looked it up on GoodReads and immediately added it to my to-read shelf. I then went onto NetGalley in the hopes of finding it up for review, which luckily it was!
POV's. The book alternates between Hope and Red's POV, starting with when they were younger and moving onto the present. Usually this doesn't work for me, because it either feels jumpy or rushed, Skovron, however did an excellent job with the time lapse. It made me get to know the characters and understand their motives and why they were the way they were in the present. Ultimately Skovrons decision to show and not tell worked, it made me feel more connected to the characters.
Main characters: Hope and Red. The two main characters are kind of opposites, Red is like fire whereas Hope is like ice. Hope has been trained secretly trained to be a warrior and she has this quiet strength and determination which I really admire. I also like that she is honourable and doesn't have blood-lust or kill just because she can as I'm not really a fan of violence just for the sake of violence. And Red is a thief and con artist, who is charming and just down right lovable. Although opposites Hope and Red complement each other perfectly, and when about half way into the book they cross paths and team up on a mutual goal of vengeance things get even more exciting.
Secondary characters. Sometimes I feel like secondary characters are kind of just there to propel the main characters forward, but that wasn't the case here. The secondary characters in Hope and Red are all fleshed out with interesting back stories; it's hard not to like them. My faves in particular were Nettle, a bodyguard of sorts for a brothel (whose blooming friendship with Hope I adored) and Filler, Red's loyal best friend.
Romance. There is hints of what could potentially be an amazing romance in Hope and Red, and I am so shipping it and looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next book.
On his Twitter bio the author, Jon Skovron, describes Hope and Red as the "1st book in [his] swashbuckling kung fu gangster pirate romance trilogy" and I think it's the perfect description.