A LAIR OF BONES BY HELEN SCHEUERER // a book review

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Mabuhay, friends!

Helen Scheuerer has been a favourite author ever since I read (and loved!) The Oremere Chronicles. So when I was offered the chance to read and review A Lair of Bones, the first in her new series called Curse of the Cyren Queen, I couldn’t pass up. I love books that have mermaids and sirens, and from the blurb, I got a sort of Hunger Games vibe. I hope this review convinces you to pick up A Lair of Bones, because I promise you, it is so worth it!

You can read my review of The Oremere Chronicles below:

🌸 Book One: Heart of Mist

🌸 Book Two: Reign of Mist

🌸 Book Three: War of Mist

🌸 Prequel Novella: Dawn of Mist

A Lair of Bones by Helen Scheuerer

Book One in The Curse of the Cyren Queen

cover design by Deranged Doctor Design

A deadly contest. A vaulting ambition. How far will one cyren go to win?

Mighty cyrens have ruled the ancient lair of Saddoriel for centuries. A cavernous fortress, a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and levels, powered by magic and music…

From the moment she was born, Roh, the daughter of an infamous criminal, has been despised by her own kind. Restricted to the Lower Sector and forced to work as a common bone cleaner, she has always believed she belongs above: where lies adventure… and power.

Opportunity arises in the form of the Queen’s Tournament, a treacherous set of trials that could see the victor crowned ruler of the entire lair. Up against the most cunning, dangerous cyrens in all the realms, does Roh stand a chance?

A Lair of Bones is the first gripping book in the dark fantasy quartet, Curse of the Cyren Queen.

Hitting shelves July 15th, 2021.

GOODREADS // STORYGRAPH // AMAZON // BLACKWELL’S

I RECEIVED AN E-COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM THE AUTHOR IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

Rohesia has dreamed of entering the Queen’s Tournament ever since she could remember. As the daughter of a deadly criminal, Roh place in Saddoriel is in the Lower Sector but by joining the tournament, Roh has the chance to become Queen – to show everyone that she is more than the daughter of a criminal.

But what chance does a cyren from the Lower Sector have against highborns whose privilege keeps them three steps forward in the tournament?

Firstly, the cyren culture in A Lair of Bones is wonderfully presented. The author retains the brutality and beauty of mythological cyrens. In mythology, sirens are deadly creatures who would lure sailors to their deaths with their songs that could enchant and hypnotize. In the book, Scheuerer re-writes the cyren’s songs as a powerful weapon used by armies, called Deathsong. And if there’s one more thing to be stacked against Rohesia, it is the lack of her Deathsong. Music is a very important to the cyren culture, so much so, that they a taskforce for kidnapping human musicians. These human musicians are trapped and spend the rest of their lives playing music for the cyrens.

I was a bit confused by this aspect of the culture. I haven’t read the novellas yet, so I’m not very familiar with the Law of Lair and why the human musicians are an integral part of the cyren culture especially if the cyrens can sing or learn to play instruments like those in the Lower Sector.

Rohesia has lived her life as a cleaner of bones, she has no skills that could be of use on a battlefield and the lack of her Deathsong is even more glaring once she enters the Tournament. She has nothing but ambition driving her forward. Rohesia is not the most lovable character; if she does not have the opportunity to stay ahead in the game, then she would cling on to the competition by the skin of her teeth. And that’s exactly what she does. Cunning, wit and ambition are what drives her forward. And Rohesia is certainly smart – we see it in the way she uses the environment to her advantage in the trials and her ability to push past any discomfort to achieve her goal.

As part of the tournament, the competitors are tasked with keeping a human alive. Rohesia’s companion, Odi, is not quite an asset. He’s a nervous wreck, not athletic and is compassionate. The latter being the worst trait of all, in Rohesia’s opinion. Despite warning her human not to trust anyone at all, Odi seems to go out of his way to disobey Roh on that very one. Their relationship is a forced; this means that for them to earn their freedom, there is no choice but to trust each other. For a cyren who has been bullied her whole life and for a human who has been hurt by cyrens, trust is probably the most difficult task of the tournament.

🌸 SNAPSHOT OF AN AUTHOR’S LIFE: BALANCING SOCIAL MEDIA, MARKETING AND ONLINE PRESENCE BY HELEN SCHEUERER

But they do. Their relationship is fraught and fragile but it also what drives them. The need each other safe to win the tournament. This trust doesn’t come easily; in fact, it’s a kicking and screaming type of scenario. I love how their relationship was portrayed, the little moments of care like giving someone the bigger half of the shared food or the brief touch to calm the other. These stood out more to me because it showed that these two characters, despite their differences and their initial resentment, were growing together.

A Lair of Bones centres much on Rohesia’s fight to win her place in Saddorial, but it also about the past and her relationship with her mother. In Saddoriel, the children of criminals are branded, forced to wear a circle of gold on their forehead to show who they are. The book delves into this question; it asks, whether children are truly the legacy of their parents? Similar to the themes in K.S. Villoso’s The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, A Lair of Bones explores what it means to live a life cemented by our parents and the consequences of defying it. Rohesia believes she knows who she is – daughter of Cyres, the murderer; Rohesia the bone cleaner; Rohesia the would-be queen of Saddoriel and yet, her Deathsong is still absent. Eventually Roh discovers that the tournament does not make finding an answer any easier, rather she is even more at a loss – who is Rohesia?

🌸 THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO BY K.S. VILLOSO // MY FAVOURITE COMPLEX HEROINE WITH A NASTY BITE & A SOFT HEART

Helen Scheuerer’s writes an adventurous story fraught with betrayal and anger. The description of the cyren world and its inhabitants. The prose is elegant and sharp; and each character surprising me with unexpected compassion or begrudging respect. I can’t to get to know them better in the sequel. I’m especially excited to know more about Yrsa Ward, a brilliant cyren on her own. A Lair of Bones gave me the right kind of anxiety as we moved from one trial to the next, but even then, the moments between the trials did not take a dip. The author kept the atmosphere ragged and almost, desperate with the attempted sabotages between competitors.

If you’ve enjoyed books with an underdog like The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winters, and a cutthroat competition like that in Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim or A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna, I highly recommend A Lair of Bones!

Helen Scheuerer is offering The Cyren Queen Origins prequel novellas for free to her newsletter subscribers.

Set in the subterranean lair of Saddoriel, A Song in the Deep, The Law of the Lair and The Tides of War follow young friends, Deelie and Cerys, as they navigate a realm of secrets, coruption and magic.

These novellas are free and exclusive to the author’s mailing list. You can subscribe on Helen’s website.

🌸 What’s your favourite mermaid or cyren book?

🌸 Have you read Helen Scheuerer’s The Oremere Chronicles? What did you think?

🌸 Do you plan on reading A Lair of Bones?

If you enjoy my work here at Camillea Reads, consider helping me by donating to my buying me a coffee through ko-fiusing my Amazon affiliate link or joining my Patreon. You can also subscribe to my Youtube channel and new podcast, Totes and Tales.

This blog is a part of Scribd‘s referral program. By claiming your 60-day free trial using my referral link, I get an additional free month to my Scribd subscription at no expense on your part.

Header photo by Matty Adame on Unsplash

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