State of Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury



SUMMARY: Born immediately after her older brother tragically died, killing her mother in childbirth, Sorrow was named so, ‘for that is all she brings us.’ She grew up at the court of Rhallon, her father the chancellor, and lost in grief and drugs. After her grandmother, one of the few positive figures in her life, died, Sorrow has taken up the day-to-day running of things to cover for her father. She is poised to take over for real as the only heir, when events change everything she’s ever known.

OPINIONS: What a wonderful and surprising book! I picked up the paperback in London on a whim a few months ago, taken by the pretty cover and the fact that it was signed, without any expectations. I had been pushing out reading it since then, as the synopsis on the back made it sound like a generic fantasy novel, but randomly packed it for a week-long trip to the Scottish countryside – which is wonderful and gave us the opportunity to read so many books! Although the beginning makes you expect the usual YA fantasy tropes, this book is so much more. It is twisty and turny and unexpected, full of flawed characters trying to do their best, and it gets better continually.
It is rare that a book truly surprises me, but Melinda Salisbury manages all that and more. I couldn’t stop reading, simultaneously almost crying and loving it so much. My main point of criticism is that events escalate very quickly in the last few pages, leading to a massive cliffhanger – PLEASE SEND ME AN ARC OF BOOK TWO I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! It is probably one of my top five books I’ve read this year, and I have read way too many already. It is so good that I had a massive amazing-book-flash, and couldn’t really get into any books for a couple of days; I don’t remember the last time that has happened to me.
I can’t quite believe that I keep gushing so much about State of Sorrow, I’m usually much more critical of things I read. As the people who know me might know, I am currently working on writing my first novel, and this is such inspiration for implementing many of the subtler ideas I want to be part of my own story. My favourite part, if I had to choose, is probably the way Melinda Salisbury manages to work in subtle social criticism and political workings without being obvious about. She makes people think, and finely analyses how a political system works – and should work – and what makes a good leader. When to follow rules, and when to break them is also a crucial point, something Sorrow must learn: Just because people care about you and give you advice with the best intentions, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily right. Everyone is fallible in this story, and I believe that that is an important message to confer.


This book was cool enough for me to share with my friend Simon (you can see his hand in the picture above), who’s usually not really into this kind of YA fantasy novel, and he loved it too. I asked him to write down a few opinions as someone who’s more into intellectual literature and literary theory as a kind of mini-guest-blog.

Enthralling narrative that deviates from the usual fantasy setting in its turn towards political intrigue and a focus on the consequences of being forced into a roll by the societal norms and traditions.
Strong in its description of personal dilemmas and the way they are addressed and dealt with. The philosophical question of what makes a good leader is not a new one, however, the narrative manages to address and consequently de-familiarize its readership through the world and characters at hand, providing a critical point of view and maybe encourages to ponder the implications of leadership and democracy a bit further.
Unfortunately, the story’s last part culminates too quickly and leaves some plot-development and character intentions behind for a classical cliffhanger.
Will definitely read book two.


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