Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller

35959724This one gained my attention back when it first came out because it involves a magic system that involves sewing. I got the audiobook with the entire idea that I would do some cross stitching while listening to it, but it didn’t end up working out like that. Oh well! 😀

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.


This is the story of Sophie, who is a seamstress in the city of Galitha. Her and her brother Kristos are common folk in the city ruled by the noble class. Their parents both died some years earlier, and were originally from the country of Pellia, where charms and curses and other such superstitions and magical abilities are still fairly commonplace. Sophie learned from her mother how to cast charms, and now makes a decent living running her shop and discreetly selling charmed clothing to the nobles.

Kristos on the other hand, is part of a radical group of common folk who have become more vocal as tensions between the noble class and working classes have increased. The common class wants more equality and a say in lawmaking and whatnot, and the nobility is… well, the nobility. Kristos is quite involved with these rebels, right up until they take him hostage in order to force Sophie to use her ever increasing friendships with some of the nobles in the city to make a cursed bit of clothing for someone in the royal family.

So, Sophie finds herself in between doing as she must to see her brother safe again, and an increasingly serious relationship with one of the most noble of dukes in the city.

I thought this book was fantastically written, with lovely prose, and brought so much well described tension to the table at times that I had to take breaks because the tension and the emotion that this book threw at me was getting me all riled up. That’s a sign of good writing! I will admit that when I went in, I was not expecting this book to have a real good fist fight with my feels, but it certainly did. I liked Sophie as a character, and I really wanted her to succeed against the antagonists. The revolt that plays out over the course of the story was very well plotted out and unfolded in a way that I felt was believable and totally could have happened in real life. The magic system was really neat, and while the magic wasn’t really the driving force of the story, it definitely added a level of mystique to the whole thing. I enjoyed the romance that played out in this one as well.

It had absolutely wonderful narration as well from Moira Quirk, who made all the characters sound suitably different and gave even male characters, like Kristos and Theodor really great voices. I sometimes have a hard time with female narrators, but her voice is very pleasant to listen to, and this book, when I had time and inclination to listen, seemed to just fly right on by.

sophie-hat-shop
Perhaps not exactly the same, but Sophie *definitely* reminded me of this Sophie. This whole book was imagined in a world much like this as well for me. Lovelovelove.

All told, it was a great use of 14 or so hours of your time, if you like books with an interesting and old-world feeling magic system, with sewing, and a well written and believable proletariat revolt, and a bit of romance all in one package. 4/5 stars!

You can see this book on goodreads here, and grab a print copy here, or audiobook here. 🙂

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