Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'The Jealousy of Jalice' blog tour brought to you by Storytellers On Tour and Jesse Nolan Bailey!
"Darkness covered the forest like a spider's web--insignificant at a casual glance, but fatal to anything trapped within."
'The Jealousy of Jalice' by Jesse Nolan Bailey is a somewhat complex fantasy story about a plot hatched by Annilasia.. an enslaved assassin.. and Delilee.. the royal decoy for the Chieftess of the Unified Tribes.. to spirit the Chieftess away in an attempt to right the wrongs plaguing their people.
Citizens of the Ikaul and Vekuuv tribes and their lands are compromised. Their Chief, The Sachem is at fault. The Realms have been split apart, throwing them all out of alignment. Magic wielders utilize a form of it called aether, but it leaves behind remnants that corrupt and mass genocides have been committed in an effort to stamp out something called The Delirium.
"There was something in the darkness. It dripped of death and violence, two elements permeating the bunker's space. Whatever it was, it wanted her. Needed her."
Bailey wastes no time jumping right into a tense situation. The opening pages see Annilasia sneaking and bluffing her way into The Fortress to meet with Delilee so the pair can begin to carry out their plan. The decoy, intending to stay behind and attempt to keep anyone from discovering the Chieftess has been kidnapped, walks a very fine line indeed. It's apparent from early on that things are so dire for their people, the two are willing to do anything to affect a change.
Delilee is probably the most likable character, as her motivations seem rooted in goodness. She hopes to spare not only their people the suffering they already endure, but also to save the Chieftess.. even if she doesn't realize she needs to be saved.
Annilasia is a bit harder. She has been spared nothing. Enslaved and taught the ways of the tillishu, elite assassins that move like shadows who carry out orders for The Sachem, though she and Delilee were childhood friends with the Chieftess, they've lived through very different experiences. She's brutally efficient, decisive, and not prone to letting her emotions rule her decision making.
I'm going to be honest. I absolutely detested Jalice. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to, but it also never changed for me. I'm relatively sure that was supposed to happen though. I didn't like her whining, pampered behavior and I certainly didn't like who she was as a person. In fact, by the end, I was decidedly rooting for the antagonists and everything else was pretty much upside down anyway.
"Silence. That was the source of her distress. Even amongst the grisly scene, the absence of sound festered."
I can definitely say the plot feels very robust. There are no squandered words and the journey is long. Every moment there is something happening.. a battle, an unexpected ripple in the plan, a soul crushing memory, or a life or death struggle. It's perpetual motion. The story is a machine bearing down on you from behind at all times.
Through dreams and trancelike flashback memories, it's told along a non-linear path by a shifting narrative which moves primarily between the three women and occasionally Hydrim, The Sachem.
There's plenty of gore and violence to keep the fight scenes interesting and lead to some truly gruesome discoveries as we follow their progress. And Bailey definitely isn't afraid to make some hard decisions for his characters.
Certainly, for me.. there didn't need to be quite so much hope, but it was a well told tale that moved at a steady pace and never got dull. I sincerely enjoyed it and look forward to the next book in the series.