Two Rival Journalists and a Magical Wardrobe

cover of divine rivals by rebecca ross

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Iris Winnow’s brother went to war, and she hasn’t heard a word from him since. In his absence, she had to drop out of school, find a job, and care for her mother, who had succumbed to addiction. She’s lucky, though — she’s found a job as a junior reporter at Oath’s biggest newspaper. The only problem is that she’s competing against Roman Kitt — wealthy, privileged — for one columnist spot. At night, Iris writes letters to her brother that she slips into her wardrobe…where they disappear. What she doesn’t know is that are magically transported to Roman’s own wardrobe, and he’s been reading them for weeks. But when tragedy strikes for Iris, and Roman finally begins to write back, anonymously, it sets them on a path that will take them all the way to the war front, where they will learn the truth about each other and the war sweeping their land.

I am a sucker for any fantasy world that looks very similar to our own but is definitely not. Some call it “low fantasy,” but I find that to be an inexact descriptor for this world, which feels like England circa World War I but is its own world with its own legends and lore surrounding the mythological gods and goddesses who have been sleeping for centuries and are now responsible for the war tearing apart the country.

But all of that is revealed slowly. First, you meet Iris and Roman, and you get to know them as people. I thought Ross did a wonderful job creating their characters, and while she mainly sticks pretty close to Iris’s perspective, we do get to see Roman’s point of view. They start out as rivals, but as Roman gets to see the vulnerable side of Iris, he falls in love with her…but she leaves town for the front before he has a chance to confess his feelings. The book then takes a turn as Iris goes to the war front, where she works as a correspondent, and finds that the war of gods is closer than she realizes and more perilous than she can imagine. The second half of the book unfolds, contrasting the war-time danger with the romance between the two characters, ending on a cliffhanger that will ensure you’ll want the sequel, Ruthless Vows, on hand. I was so mesmerized by the writing, and rooting so hard for Roman and Iris that I could barely put the book down — and the sequel is a wonderful follow-up that expands upon the lore that Ross seeds in the first book. Definitely don’t sleep on this duology!

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