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Rebecca Ross’s Divine Rivals

Kirsten Batitay

To be loved is to be known. Rebecca Ross’s flowing prose and intricate world-building in her novel, Divine Rivals, truly exemplify this saying. This fantasy novel tells the story of two rival journalists, Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt, whose country is in the midst of a war fought between two gods. They are safe in a town far from the frontlines of the fighting, yet they feel compelled to travel to the frontlines in hopes of being able to write about the war for their largely apathetic and detached town.

Enrapturing as it was, this book was nearly impossible to put down, and I found myself using every bit of my free time to read it. Although the romantic development between the two main characters is a source of excitement, the backdrop of the overarching war is expertly woven in as Ross doesn’t shy away from the horrific details of it. Subtle shifts in the air and ambiance of the frontline and nearby towns are heavily emphasized, not so much as to completely give away the next scene, but enough for the reader to wait anxiously and hold their breath in wait for what could happen next, which was the perfect juxtaposition to the more sweet moments of the story.

A key aspect of this novel that is both heavily implied and explicitly stated is its emphasis that one can find happiness even in times of difficulty. Although the setting leaves seemingly no room for hope or joy, the characters find ways to enjoy the mundane moments of their lives, forming a family bound by their shared experiences rather than blood. As readers, we learn that even amid a volatile life, we aren’t less worthy of love. We have to take time and enjoy the small moments of our lives as well, because what is life if not for the countless peculiarities that make it up?

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