Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains Book 1)

Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains Book 1) - Rosalyn Kelly I received a copy for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger warnings for gore and sexual violence.

Melokai is an epic fantasy featuring a great, diverse cast of characters and an intriguing storyline which, while not having many twists and turns, still manages to be compelling.

The book starts in the mountain country of Peqya, a country ruled by women and in which men are reduced to slaves and Pleasure Givers (actual term in the book). Ramya is the titular Melokai, or the country's ruler. She believes her people loves her and are happy with her long and prosperous rule. As the rest of the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that this isn't exactly the case. Her own advisers for example, express their disagreement and in some cases, disgust even at her actions. Peqya also advocates equality between women but not with men and it predictably made a lot of people disgruntled and angry with their lot in life.

Ramya isn't the only POV character though. The book features different point-of-views, from Ramya's former PG to royalty from distant lands to people in her army even. Ramya herself wasn't even my favorite POV character in this book. In fact, I found her to be arrogant and she also made some decisions which I thought should have resulted in international incidents. As a ruler, she was said to be a good one but either I have different standards or that was just what she thought of herself. It's one of those things I appreciate about this book- Ramya thinks about one thing, doesn't mind the consequences, and doesn't think about the people she's actually alienating.

The other characters are also pretty good. There's a spoiled brat prince from a desert country who gets his ass handed to him, a queen from another country who becomes friends with Ramya, and even a sentient wolf with a complicated past. All of their arcs come together to form an intricately woven fantasy world.

I also loved the world-building. It feels incredibly lush, from the decadent nations to the harsh lands the wolves inhabit, I felt totally immersed in the worlds and cultures the author was describing. I also liked the cat imagery presented in Peqya, even though I myself identifies as more of a dog lover. I also liked the writing style which conveyed the characters' personalities, motivations, and characteristics very well.

All in all, I really liked the novel and I'll also be putting the next one on my TBR list.