ARC Review: Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian

Many are called…
She alone can save the world and become Death’s bride.

Cobweb Bride is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death’s ultimatum to the world.

What if you killed someone and then fell in love with them?

In an alternate Renaissance world, somewhere in an imaginary “pocket” of Europe called the Kingdom of Lethe, Death comes, in the form of a grim Spaniard, to claim his Bride. Until she is found, in a single time-stopping moment all dying stops. There is no relief for the mortally wounded and the terminally ill….

Covered in white cobwebs of a thousand snow spiders she lies in the darkness… Her skin is cold as snow… Her eyes frozen… Her gaze, fiercely alive…

While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war… A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father … Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court…. Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living…

Look closer — through the cobweb filaments of her hair and along each strand shine stars…

And one small village girl, Percy—an unwanted, ungainly middle daughter—is faced with the responsibility of granting her dying grandmother the desperate release she needs.

As a result, Percy joins the crowds of other young women of the land in a desperate quest to Death’s own mysterious holding in the deepest forests of the North…

And everyone is trying to stop her.

My Rating: 

4 cupcakes

Cobweb Bride is an enthralling story reminiscent of a dark fairytale. Set in 17th century Europe, Death has provided the world with an ultimatum: until his Cobweb Bride is found, no one will die. This promise of eternal life sounds appealing at first, but Death’s proclamation is not without its share of horror — soldiers mutilated on the battlefield bleed out yet do not die; animals prepared for slaughter who won’t be slain; people waiting on their deathbed to take their last breath, which just won’t come. Across the land, inhabitants are trapped in this perverse imitation of “life,” and while many wish to restore the balance between life and death, there are others who are determined to remain in the realm of the living regardless of the cost.

The first third of the story is very slow paced, allowing for the development of multiple main characters and their associated story lines: Percy, the unappreciated daughter who embarks on a quest to become the Cobweb Bride, finding herself and her purpose along the way; the murdered princess who truly becomes alive after her death; and the dead duke’s son whose loyalty is tested when he is charged with capturing the aspiring Cobweb Brides. As these seemingly unrelated story lines intersect, the characters find themselves inextricably bound together by the same purpose: to return death to the world.

Nazarian’s writing is evocative, and beautiful. The descriptions were so detailed and lush that I found myself hanging on to every word, as opposed to skimming through the paragraphs of description in favour of the action like I do with Lord of the Rings. When the writing isn’t creating stunningly vivid images in the reader’s mind, it raises excellent points about immortality, life, death and suffering.

“It is life that fights and struggles and rages; life, that tears at you in its last agonizing throes to hold on, even if but for one futile instant longer… Whereas I, I come softly when it is all done. Pain and death are an ordered sequence, not a parallel pair. So easy to confuse the correlations, not realizing that one does not bring the other.”

Overall, Cobweb Bride is a brilliant start to a new fantasy series. Nazarian’s vivid, lush writing makes for an enjoyable read, even in the slowest portions of the book.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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