by Rowenna Miller

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A seamstress who stitches magic into clothing finds herself torn between loyalty to her brother and her secret love for a nobleman in this debut fantasy inspired by the French Revolution.

In a time of revolution, everyone must take a side.
Sophie, a dressmaker and charm caster, has lifted her family out of poverty with a hard-won reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly embroidered spells. A commission from the royal family could secure her future -- and thrust her into a dangerous new world.
Revolution is brewing. As Sophie's brother, Kristos, rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement, it is only a matter of time before their fortunes collide.
When the unrest erupts into violence, she and Kristos are drawn into a deadly magical plot. Sophie is torn -- between her family and her future.
The Unraveled KingdomTornFray

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316478618
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Series: The Unraveled Kingdom , #1
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 82,908
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

Rowenna Miller grew up in a log cabin in Indiana and still lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughters, where she teaches English composition, trespasses while hiking, and spends too much time researching and recreating historical textiles.

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Torn 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
CaptainsQuarters More than 1 year ago
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings. Upon reading the synopsis, I thought this novel would float me boat. But I just could not finish it and had to abandon ship at 80%. Why ye ask? Well for a myriad of reasons: - Sophie - She is the main character and at first I really liked her. She was hard-working, dedicated, driven, intelligent, and fun. But basically she is a character who waffles forever, makes the wrong choices every time, is extremely selfish, and doesn't use her brain. People DIE because of her stupidity and yet even that doesn't help her decide. By doing nothing (but lying) she creates a situation that could have been solved in the very beginning just by turning the bad man into the police. I kept waiting for her to fix her own mistakes and instead (at 80%) she FINALLY makes a decision and then runs to a man to whine and ask for help. That was the point where I had to stop reading. Ugh. - The Magic - Sophie is a seamstress who sews magic into clothing with her stitches. This aspect of the novel was awesome. It just really didn't get used to its potential. I wanted to see more of the magic in action, not just hear about some of the small things it could do as an aside. - The Love Story - Sigh. Insta-lust turned into love in a couple of weeks. She is a commoner. He is a noble. Star-crossed lovers that ye be supposed to cheer for. But I didn't really. - The Love Interest - Okay so despite disliking the insta-lust, I did like a couple of things about Sophie's man. He is a botanist and a violinist. He has an eye for artistry. He is strong and intelligent. But oh so naïve. The "commoners live like this?" and "well yes we are so rich but we have responsibilities that are given to us by birth and oh it's so hard" kinda crap. Sophie of course opens his eyes to the common folk problems while he wines, dines, and seduces her with his charm and riches. - The Brother - Sophie's brother is frankly an ass. Everything she does is because her brother always gets his way and she loves him. Is civil war worth saving yer selfish idealistic stupid brother. Ummm apparently yes. And then the plot twist happens and Sophie sees the truth! Well it was apparent to this pirate Captain from the beginning. - The Bad Guy - He seemingly wants to bring down society in flames because of revenge. But his sister was spurned! Her reputation was ruined! So isn't it justice? No it's because he doesn't feel important enough and no one realizes his superiority and intelligent. Bah! - The Hired Help - I actually loved the girls working in the shop with Sophie. But in her selfishness she really treats them like crap and they deserved better. I wanted to see more of the good aspects of the friendships that were hinted at the beginning of the novel. - The Pacing - It took forever to get into the story and was rather repetitive. We had to hear about brother's beautiful writing, the anger of the populace, how nobles are evil, and the taverns meetings a bit too much. Poor = grumpy. Nobles = evil. Sophie needs nobles and money to survive. Seriously for something that simplistic, the author pointed it out an awful lot. There was no real build up or action. Most of that happened off the page. Instead we get Sophie waffling and visiting the rich people artists’ salon. I wish Sophie had not been an idiot. I loved the sewing magic!
DeborahJRoss More than 1 year ago
In a land and time not too distant from our own Western European late 17th Century, first-generation immigrant Sophie is at last achieving her dream and pulling herself out of poverty. She’s managed to get a license to operate her dressmaking shop and even hire a couple of assistants. It’s enough to not only support her but to help her brother, Kristos, a day laborer who also has a dream: achieving fair working conditions for his comrades. But Sophie is no ordinary seamstress: she has a flair for design, and she’s inherited her mother’s magical gifts. For special projects for special patrons, she stitches in spells of love, of protection, of luck. Her upward mobility blinds her to the nativism and bigotry that give rise to endemic social and economic injustice. Just as Sophie gets her big break, creating spell-stitched garments for the aristocracy, the workers’ revolution begins to heat up. Initially nonviolent, the protests become increasingly confrontational -- and deadly -- under the direction of a mysterious leader, an academic who himself has foreign roots and who has an agenda of his own…and a use for Sophie’s special talents. Sophie is an interesting character, and we see her changing world through the lens of her own frantic attempts at head-in-the-sand neutrality. In times of upheaval, those who have scratched together a little are even more desperate to hold on to it than those who have nothing. It would be easy to portray the workers’ movement as ill-conceived and naïve, playing into the hands of an unscrupulous, power-hungry manipulator. Certainly, from Sophie’s vantage, the revolution lurches from one fulminating disaster to another, and if the leaders would just go home and let her continue in her business-as-usual, that would be fine with her. In some ways, the noble ladies who include her in their salons are more politically astute, and more aware of how unstable their society has become. For this very reason, telling the story from Sophie’s viewpoint highlights the hypocrisies on all sides, for she is both an innocent victim caught in the cross-fire and complicit in the maintenance of an oppressive regime. Yet if bloody upheaval comes at too great a cost, what is a better path forward? Our world has yet to figure that out. Perhaps, as this series unfolds, Sophie’s world will. The verdict: Surprisingly deep socially aware fantasy, plus a very cool magical system. The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to say anything about it.
lostinagoodbook More than 1 year ago
It’s not often I feel the need to DNF a book. I always feel bad when it happens. This book was just not for me. I was excited by the idea. Sign me up! A young, entrepreneurial woman who is able to sew charms into the clothes that she makes. I love that idea. I like to sew myself as a matter of fact, and my Christmas presents for friends always include a couple of homemade items. I wanted to see some magic. I wanted descriptions of lovely clothing interlaced with spells and artistry. That was my expectation. However, that is not what this book is about and that may be why I did not respond well to it. There was no magic, at least not enough in the part I read. There was no artistry, at least not in the clothing as described. Torn lacked charm. Too much politics and not enough enchantment. It featured quite a few scenes of students fomenting rebellion in dark cafe corners than there was magic sewing needles. How shall I put it … if your favorite scene in Les Miserables was Red and Black, then this book might be for you, but I was promised A Heart Full of Love dammit! Who is to blame for that? The cover blurb writer? Maybe. The book was not badly written, but it felt like a slog and I could not push myself to finish. Maybe you will like it better. Now excuse me, it’s time for a YouTube Les Miserables spiral. Song for this book: Red and Black from Les Miserables Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley.
LoudMindReviews More than 1 year ago
I recently finished an ARC copy (I’m a bit late with this review) of Torn by Rowenna Miller (thank you Netgalley and Orbit Books) and the following is my honest review. ————— In the city of Galitha the nobility rein over the common people, including seamstress and shop owner, Sophie Balstrade. Sophie, a charm caster, can sow magic into clothing, making her shop a very unique one. Most of her clientele are nobles and she depends on the coin she makes serving them to provide for herself and her brother. Unfortunately, others are not so accepting of nobles or their coin and so a revolution begins. Kristos, Sophie’s brother and only family, sits firmly on the side of the common people. No matter how hard he tries to bring Sophie to his way of thinking, he fails. Sophie believes she can stay neutral in this war between the nobles and the commoners, but she soon finds out how wrong that assumption is. The first half of this book started off pretty slowly, setting the stage for the second half which flew by. I wasn’t that impressed in the beginning; a lot of talk about politics and business ownership, pretty droll stuff. At the same time I understood that it was imperative that the reader understand the rules of the game, so to speak. I also wasn’t that impressed with the main character right away. But, boy, did that change once I was about half way through. Sophie’s character gains strength and smarts throughout the story and I finally took a liking to her. Many other characters come into play such as the nobles, Viola and Theodore, who are both excellent characters. The plot also gets more interesting as well; I was unable to put this book down for the last 40% of this book. I was disappointed when the story was over, but was assuaged by the fact that there will be another book in this series in April of 2019, so we will get to see more of Sophie and the handsome Duke of Westfall, Theodor. All in all I was very pleased with this story. Since the first book gives you all the background you need on the workings of this particular world I’m confident the rest of books will be filled to brimming with all the juicy good stuff I came to love in this novel. I’ll be waiting with bated breathe for the next installment! -
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
Torn is definitely a slow burn of a book but the pay off is absolutely worth sticking around for. Miller creates an intricate, nuanced fantasy world with realistic characters. Plus, the magic system is entirely unique. For those of you who want a fast-paced, action-oriented story about a revolution, this is not the book for you. However, if you would prefer a book that examines the reasons behind a revolution, pick this one up. Sophie, a talented seamstress who can also embroider charms onto cloth, has finally lifted herself and her brother out of poverty. Her atelier has slowly gained increasingly prestigious clients. After Lady Snowmont, an important noble, commissions a gown and some charmed garments, Sophie is sure her future is finally secured. However, Kristos, her brother, has recently become a leader in the anti-monarchist movement. As the movement grows increasingly vocal and violent, Kristos is kidnapped by another member of the movement in order to blackmail Sophie into casting a curse. Forced into an impossible choice, Sophie is torn between her family, her ethics, and the life she's built for herself. There was a huge focus on politics, philosophy, and government. Instead of portraying issues as black and white, Miller has created a world of grays where there is no easy or right answer. Even thought I may not have agreed with a characters' beliefs, I could always easily understand why they believed that way. It was interesting to see how the character's relationships changed over time as the revolution progressed. Additionally, I liked that Torn had so many characters who weren't active participants in the revolution. It was refreshing and added an additional layer of realism and depth. Torn was definitely a more character-driven novel. Many of the scenes focus on Sophie's everyday life. I enjoyed the slower beginning because it was interesting to see how the slow development of the revolution began changing things. However, the pace does pick up in the second half of the book. I loved that Miller included so many women. From Sophie to Alice to Penny to Lady Snowmont, the women of this novel were my favorite characters. I wasn't a huge fan of the main romance because it felt a little too much like insta-love to me. However, there were a few scenes with Sophie and her duke that I enjoyed so their romance may grow on me in the future. The magic system was easily my favorite part of the book. It was such a fresh and unique concept. I loved that magic was an almost forgotten art instead of being the dominant force in this world. Watching Sophie discover what she could do was so much fun. Plus, there were hints that magic may play a larger role in future books. The world-building in general was a bit limited, but I am confident that Miller will reveal more of the world as the series grows in scope. I'm definitely intrigued by this world! Torn was an interesting, thought-provoking debut book with political intrigue galore and a novel magical system. I will definitely be picking up the sequel, I can't wait to see what Miller will do next. I would recommend to fantasy fans who are looking for a more political and philosophical read. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Keladin More than 1 year ago
This was a bit of a disappointment. While I liked the first 1/4, the rest of the book didn't quite match up with the expectations I had going in. What this book isn't: a high-stakes political intrigue starring a perky young businesswoman who happens to get mixed up in a revolution. What this book is: a languid, historical-fictionesque story with lots of political and economical talk, starring a perky young businesswoman whose brother happens to get mixed up in a revolution and she ends up trailing along by accident. The worldbuilding is more sparse than I would have liked. It feels very much like a historical fiction with a dash of fantasy added, rather than the other way around, which again, was not what I had in mind. Galitha is very similar to 18th-century England, or pre-revolution France, with rising tensions between the elite and the working class. At first, all the political talks, cafe visits, and walks around the city were charming. There was a comforting laziness to it that made it different from any other fantasy stories I'd read recently. But after a while it got to the point where I was craving something more. More action, more tension, more involvement in the revolution plotline. Because even at the halfway mark, it was still a lot of just sitting around talking about the pending revolution and its players. It felt like there were two plotlines from two different novels: Sophie's and Kristo's. The former involved working at the dress shop, debating about politics at the parlour, and being courted by Duke Theodor. And the latter involved all the life-and-death, shaking-the-country's-foundation stuff. I can't tell you how many times I thought Kristos was probably having a more fun time than Sophie (and he's the one who got kidnapped!) I liked Sophie as a protagonist for the most part. If you're tired of books that equate "strong" female protagonists with women who hate skirts and housework, then you'll love Sophie. It's not often we get a businesswoman--a dressmaker, at that--as a fantasy protagonist and I immediately took to her practical, no-nonsense attitude. My problem with her? She's passive. Not so much in terms of character, because she's obviously a self-sufficient woman who's unafraid of speaking her mind, but in terms of plot. She waits for things, like the rebellion, to happen to her before doing anything about it. She spends half the book repeating to herself that she doesn't know which side--the nobility or the common folk--she stands with, without making an effort to find an answer. It was utterly frustrating. My favourite part about the book, and the thing that really makes it stand out, is all the diverse, intrepid women surrounding Sophie. These include painters, seamstresses, socialites, and history buffs of various nationality and class. The book gives you a little wink and a smile and tells you that there are no specific parameters of being a woman. You can love pretty clothes and makeup and tea parties and also be politically savvy, an artist, an entrepreneur, whatever. The whole story is distinctly feminist, with scenes of women propping up other women, and I loved that. So if you're looking for something slow that features interesting female characters and lots and lots of political talk, then give Torn a shot. Alas, it just wasn't for me, and I don't know if I'll be continuing on with the series.