If you’ve been around for any amount of time, you know that my favorite genre is historical fantasy. I love reading about different time periods and places, especially those that I haven’t learned about in school. But adding in fantasy elements, whether that’s magic or monsters or mythology, just gives the story something more. So it comes as no surprise that I absolutely loved Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy.
For Mari Olsen, magic is a deadly gift. Use too much and the Firn could kill her—just like it killed her sister. But when a fellow orphan, Eve, is adopted by the wealthy Vestergaard family, Marit risks her magic to to secure a job as their seamstress. But Marit has a second, secret agenda for gaining access to the Vestergaard household: her father died while working for the Vestergaard mines and it may not have been an accident. As Marit begins to investigate the Vestergaard family, she places herself and those she loves in danger. And magic may be the only way to save them—if it doesn’t kill her first.
I don’t even know where to start with what I liked most because all of it came together so beautifully, every element weaving together like a finely threaded tapestry to create a stunning masterpiece. The characters, the writing style, the magic, the plot, the historical details—I loved it all.
I love how all the characters—Marit, Jakob, Eve, Liljan, even Brock—grow and change, learn to get along and come together, over the course of the novel. Emily always writes such great friendships, especially female friendships, and swoon-worthy romances, and this book had both. I love Marit and Eve’s sisterly bond, her relationship with her actual sister (even though it broke my heart), and her kinship with Liljan. As for the romantic interest, Jakob was so sweet (we need more sweet male characters!) and I love how much he cares for his sister and Marit. Their romance was simple and lovely.
I also love that Emily includes chapters from Phillip’s point of view. Seeing how the “bad guy” came to his point of view, how the events of his life shaped who he has become is so interesting. Including his perspective helped me understand how someone could start with good intentions and fall so far.
As for the magic and the world, wow! I love that this is set in Denmark during a time period I know nothing about it. It piqued my interest in the history of this time and place in the world. Part of why I read historical fiction is to read about times and places that aren’t often explored in history class or popular books and this one pulled through. I love all the historical details that just bring the story to life.
As for the magic system, it was so intriguing. The idea that using too much magic could also freeze your veins forever, ahhh that’s so crazy! And I love that everybody with magic in this had such simple, unique abilities that help do awesome things in the last part of the story. It was really cool to see the characters come to life alongside their magic abilities.
And the plot! I love that this focuses on solving a mystery alongside the magical and historical aspects. All the small discoveries along the way built up to a fantastic reveal that stole my breath away.
I also love Emily’s writing style. Her descriptions and details are enchanting. I love how Marit often compares things to fabrics and sewing. Those details really brought the story together.
Splinters of Scarlet is my favorite kind of story. It has characters that I root for, magic that enchants me, and a story that keeps me reading. All of the different aspects come together for a rich, magical story that you don’t want to miss. I’m already contemplating when I can reread this book.