Book Review: Crier’s War by Nina Varela

The cover of Criers War, found on

The cover of Crier’s War, found on

Chayse Richardson, Staff Writer

   “Rowan had always told her that justice was the answer. And for a long time, Ayla had believed her. She’d believed that revolution was possible, that if humans just kept rising up, refusing to submit, they could really change things. But Ayla knew better now. Over the years, she’d seen how hopeless Rowan’s dreams were. Every uprising had failed; every brilliant plan had been crushed; every new maneuver just resulted in more human death. Justice was a god, and Ayla didn’t believe in such childish things. She believed in blood.” 

   Nina Varela’s debut novel, Crier’s War is truly unforgettable. It tells the story of Ayla, a human servant working for the Automae- a race of artificial intelligence that have become the ruling class. Ayla’s true goal is vengeance, after her family was killed by Automae. Ayla plans to murder the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. But once Ayla had an encounter with Crier, she wasn’t what was expected. Crier was soft, gentle, and innocent, not this cruel being Ayla expected. The novel itself has so many layers. The slow-burn between Ayla and Crier, the story behind Crier’s betrothed, Scryre Kinok. Or even learning about the mystery behind Ayla’s family tree.

   Lady Crier has to be one of my favorite characters throughout all the fantasy novels I’ve read. She’s so loving toward someone she shouldn’t be associated with, so passionate about things she wasn’t  allowed to even dream about. The pure admiration she had for people warmed my heart. Crier is so caring yet so powerful. While reading Crier’s War (and the sequel Iron Heart) I found myself truly attached to this character. 

   Crier’s War develops the relationship between Ayla and Crier beautifully. The sweetness in the blossoming connection is something I don’t see enough in romance novels, especially in LGBTQ texts. LGBTQ books generally show the harsh reality that comes from “non traditional” relationships, however with Crier’s War the relationship was never looked down upon due to gender, which I found so heartwarming. 

   Nina Varela does a superb job world building. The novel itself has a completely imaginative world called The Lands of Zulla. In Zulla there are cities, landscapes, and rulers that make the story interesting to follow. Personally, I love the city Rabu, it’s where Crier’s father rules and where the palace resides. Learning about this fictional place adds another level of enticement to the novel. 

   It’s hard to come across a queer fantasy novel, especially with LGBT women, which is why I couldn’t recommend this book enough, especially to LGBTQ readers. After reading Crier’s War I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. The characters in this novel have depth which gets expanded on in the second book. The story line expands further in Iron Heart, which I never expected, but  was intrigued by nonetheless. Nina Varela did an exceptional job writing the two-part series, I can’t wait to see what else is in store from her.