Torn – Rowenna Miller

4 stars

From the earliest pages of the book, Torn is clearly about being in the middle of something bigger than yourself. Sophie, the main character is stuck between two sides of a revolution, two races, two sides of society and propriety. She desperately wants to stay neutral and it quickly becomes clear that’s not going to happen.


Cover from Goodreads


Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.

Torn is a very appropriate title for this novel, fitting Sophie’s position as perfectly as one of her gowns fits a client. She’s torn between family, safety, her values, her ambitions, her clients and her own desires.

Sophie’s story is that of the person who wants to watch from the sidelines and look out for herself. At the end of the day, all Sophie wants is to keep her shop open and continue to support herself, rather than fall back into poverty. A reasonable goal. She knows the system isn’t completely fair, but she’s made it work for her. She’s worked hard to work within the system and is content enough to not rock the boat.

Kristos was unpleasant the entire book. From the first time we meet Sophie’s brother to the final page he’s featured on, I hated him. He doesn’t seem to care about Sophie, her livelihood, her safety, her desires, her success, her happiness. He only cares for what she can do for him. He is the worst kind of relative. A user who should be turned out to the streets and never spoken to again. Even if Sophie agreed with her brother’s rhetoric, she still should have kicked him to the curb.

I really enjoyed the system of magic in Torn. I love stories where magic is embedded in everyday actions such as sewing, painting, gardening, etc and Torn fits neatly within my interests. Working charms for luck and safety within the garments she’s crafting, Sophie has cut out a niche for herself.

All that being said, I found some elements of the story quite predictable. Some of the “twists” were pretty obvious and a little disappointing in their unoriginality.

Torn is the first in the Unraveled Kingdom series and is on shelves now!

I received an eARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.