Hello and welcome to my stop on the tour for Jesse Nolan Bailey’s Jealousy of Jalice!
The Realms have split apart, the Stones of Elation have been hidden, and warnings of dokojin drift among the tribes.
The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame.
It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem.
Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia’s delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land.
Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice’s past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it.
Vivid in its description, bloody and brutal in its execution, the Jealousy of Jalice is a horror of a book that begs you read on. Jesse manages to paint a picture of a complex world without the first few pages, adding to that conflict which spans backwards by years and all while pushing the story forward: Jalice has been kidnapped. But don’t f*** with Jalice.
Visceral, painstakingly world-built, a living, breathing world with culture and custom galore, from pronouns for aethertwisters and mirajin to feathers exchanged – if you’re an Ikaul or ally of, original flora and creepy fauna, this world is a creative smorgasbord. The ‘no-stone-left-unturned’ approach to world-building was a joy to read. why the animals have turned violent and ravening, I loved this aspect. It spoke to me and real world problems. Jesse went so far to carefully build this world that it even has arguments over diet within that I fully appreciate based on my own worldview.
I enjoy the mystery upfront: Annilasia says the Sachem, the Tribe Chief, is possessed by a Dokojin, something dark that has tricked the tribespeople into thinking the Sachem unified them, but it is wrong … so Anni says … they are enslaved and the Sachem is using dark magic to cover up the fact he’s a murderous tyrant. Jalice disappears, the murderer is Anni, but which is it, dear reader?
Flashbacks serve as a good plot device; I do like a Flashback when it is done well, and continues the plot. Here, Jalice’s memories, or at least some of them, are freed by a mirajin but rather than all come back nicely, they come back in violent fits and flashes which serve to pave the wave backwards, but on sporadic slabs rather a full picture. This both gave me the insight and intrigue into her past than I wanted, but also withheld important information. But, because of the sporadic nature of it, it provides ample reason why some and not all of the past would be revealed, so it was both clever and laid breadcrumbs toward the end of the books.
Sometimes the dialogue is too deliberate and is a means to an end rather than natural speech. Though, I know this is something sometimes needed to aide a story and push it forward, there’s perhaps a few times where the information didn’t need to be pushed there and then, like in the conversation with Korscha, the aethertwister. The world is so ingeniously built, I wish mundane phrases like assassin training weren’t in there, considering most of the flora and fauna are completely new. There’s times when the world-building is so deep and a couple instances where it’s just scratched onto the surface. For complete immersion, it would’ve been nice to continue at the same depth, though I know myself, that is hard and Jesse has done such a great job with what is ready done.
If anything this book proves that envy is the greatest sin of them all. I love how apt the title is as we move through the book and learn more, it’s great when titles mean something to the story and aren’t just … well, titles.
The final chapters are an exciting, beat-by-beat account of a party that is crumbling, but doesn’t know it. That is hunted, but by more things than they know; and is compromised, but not by the person they think. This creates excitement, horror, and intrigue in equal measures. I really did enjoy the unknown in this part of the book, the what if this … and it doesn’t let you down, that’s for sure.
Overall, a very unique world lives in these pages and a story that really does beg to be read. The people within are very flawed and the journey they take is unforgiving. Definitely worth putting on your TBR.