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Debut YA Fantasy | Book Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and Verse was not what I expected it to be…

Book Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

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sword and verse kathy macmillan

Title & Author: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Genre: Young Adult – High Fantasy

Release Date: January 19, 2016

Series: Standalone?

Publisher: HarperTeen

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.”

Not For Me

Full disclosure: I DNF’d this book at 50 percent.

The world of Sword and Verse was not one I could easily understand or feel like I could immerse myself in. Only the dominant master race can read and write, but there’s always one member of the slave race who is chosen especially to be a tutor to the royals and teach them the language of the gods.

Raisa is chosen to be the tutor-in-training and seeks to learn the hidden depths of language. There are two main problems with this premise in my view – first, it’s not explained well WHY the slave race, the Arnathim, is chosen for the tutor position. And second, the slaves vs master tension never really served a purpose other than to create tension between Raise and the prince.

To say I wasn’t a fan of the romance is an understatement. It was dragged out and kind of a bummer the entire time I was reading.

By the time I reached the halfway point in Sword and Verse, I was frustrated how little I understood about the world and how bland Raisa was. She’s a bit of a blank slate – little is shared about her past, motivations or personality.

Also by the time I quit reading, there was zero momentum. I was left dangling with little motivation to continue.

The whole “rebel WITH a cause thing” is so old to me by now that I just couldn’t get behind that angle of the story, which is totally a personal preference.

I really wanted to like this story that seemed like high fantasy fun. It just fell flat for me.


Unfortunately, I have to say that I cannot recommend this book. The main character is weak and bland and the story didn’t push me forward. Sword and Verse doesn’t offer enough for fantasy lovers to make them stay.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Stephanie

    Preach it. This book was no bueno. 🙁