Every once in a while you read a book that's unlike anything you've ever read. Seraphina's Lament is that book.
Part fantasy, part zombie, and all grimdark, the book blew me away. Sarah Chorn's prose is lyrical, heartbreaking poetry in so many places that I just had to stop and digest some of the merciless beauty at times.
Seraphina is a fire talent, a kind of Dark Phoenix in a broken body that seethes with rage. Her twin, Varyen, is a water elemental: shapeless and lost without Seraphina, who is enslaved by a dictator. Vaddon is a revolutionary with lightning in his veins, and grief in his heart for the man his husband has become - the dictator Eyad, a despotic and cruel man with mind talents that keep his citizens in fear.
When these literal forces of nature come together, manipulated and molded by an ancient god, the world will burn.
This book is not for the weak of heart. Cannibalism among starving people is prominent, and the harsh conditions of the Sunset Lands are based on the horrific event of the Holomodor (Ukrainian Genocide) in Russia in the early 30's. I can't say enough good things about this book, but its strengths were some of its weaknesses for me, too. I found myself rushing through the last third to "get to the good stuff" and was completely rewarded. I waffled on a rating between four and five stars because of that, but ultimately, this book is a work of art and deserves five because, goddamn, this is a DEBUT NOVEL and it knocked my socks off.