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Vial of Tears - Review


*I received the E-Arc and physical copy from Holiday House via Edelweiss for Rockstar Book Tours. All reviews are my own.*


As we wind down the reviews for the year, I had the opportunity to check out Vial of Tears by Cristin Bishara. The Phoenician-based mythology details two girls' journey in the underworld while trying to find their way home. I never heard of Phoenician Mythology, so I was interested in finding out about this unique telling.


"Sixteen-year-old sisters Samira and Rima aren't exactly living the dream. Instead, they live with their maddeningly unreliable mother in a rundown trailer in Michigan. Dad's dead, money's tight, and Mom disappears for days at a time. So when Sam's grandfather wills her the family valuables--a cache of Lebanese antiquities--she's desperate enough to try pawning them before Mom can.
But she shouldn't. Because one is cursed, forbidden, the burial coin of a forgotten god. Disturbing it condemns her and Rima to the Phoenician underworld, a place of wicked cities, burning cedar forests, poisoned feasts of milk and lemons, and an endless, windless ocean.
Nothing is what it seems. No one is who they say. And down here, the night never ends.
To get home--and keep her sister safe--Sam will have to outwit beautiful shapeshifters, pose as a royal bride, sail the darkest sea... and maybe kill the god of death himself."

I have to say I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. You all have been following me enough to know that I love mythology of any kind, and a Phoenician-themed one is a first for me. But I feel like the story didn't quite hit its mark and didn't live up to its full potential.

Don't get me wrong; I love that the author engrained much of her family history into this tale. I didn't have to read the author's note to notice specific passages hit home for Bishara. Adding family photos and handed-down recipes was a nice touch to get to know the Bishara family. But aside from the personal touches, the story fell flat.

The tale didn't pick up speed until halfway through the book and almost landed in the DNF pile. I had a hard time connecting with the characters – mainly because of their personalities or lack of them. While Samira is an overthinker that annoyed me with her multiple failed decisions due to distrust, Rima was no better. She got caught up in the enemy's clutches more than Princess Peach getting snatched up by Bowser. The way Rima's character is written, I figured the shit-talking rebel would have a more prominent role. I also had a hard time accepting Eshmun's portrayal. He gave no hint of explanation throughout the entire book, which made it hard to figure out why everything was happening the way it was. One of my mottos has always been "Communication is key," and there were none between characters.



Overall I rated the story 3-stars. It's an okay book. The world-building was beautifully on point, and the wonder of it all will remind you of Persophone and Hades. But the story just wasn't it for me.


Vial of Tears debuts October 5, 2021


PSSST! There's a giveaway!



Up for grabs will be THREE (1) finished copies of Vial of Tears by Cristin Bishara! This giveaway will be open to U.S. residents only and will run until October 12th. Three winners will be chosen. To enter, click the link below!



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