I am very happy right now. Historical fiction is, believe it or not, one of my favorite genres, even though now I don't read it nearly as much as I do science-fiction or fantasy. However, it was the genre that got me into reading, and so when I saw a book that was a mix between fantasy and historical fiction I knew that I had to read it. And I am so, so happy that I did.
Aliya is a medical school graduate with her whole life in front of her when she is involved in a car accident with a truck. When she wakes up, however, she realizes that she is no longer in the world that she knows--or even in her own body. She has been transported to the Middle Ages, in the body of a Countess named Lilian, who has just had an agonizing and unsuccessful birth. Aliya must use all of her knowledge, strength, and skill to navigate this new world, and blaze her own trail in a time where women were expected to do exactly the opposite.
Let me just start out by saying that I LOVE the Middle Ages. It is one of my favorite time periods to read about, because for some reason everything is more interesting when there are swords involved. Potter did a great job of making you feel like you were actually in the Middle Ages, with all of the disgusting diseases (ew), poor hygiene (double ew), and just the general feel of the time period. I was very happy to see the setting portrayed as well as it was, and it drew me into the story from the very beginning.
I really did like Aliya. It is hard with a story like this to not fall into the "Special Snowflake" model just because she does have so much more knowledge than everybody else--but she also has less too. Yes, she knows more about medical tools and procedures, but she has no idea about the customs of the times. Her knowledge was balanced out with her ignorance, which helped take the edge off of the "Special Snowflake" feeling. She was such a strong and independent character, but she also wasn't afraid to admit it when she was hopelessly lost and ask for help. She was definitely not a damsel in distress, which made me super happy.
And can we just have a moment of appreciation for the supporting characters here? I loved every single one of them, because they all had their own personality traits and characteristics, not all of them liked Aliya (which is a plus in my opinion, when everybody loves the main character it rubs me the wrong way), and they just made the story feel more well-rounded and fleshed out. Plus, it was super interesting to hear about their exploits and their backstories. I'm a sucker for a good backstory.
My only main complaint was the feeling that Aliya was a little too perfect with all of her knowledge, but again this is completely understandable simply due to the nature of the book. She's from a futuristic period, she is going to know more about technology and advancements. This was more of a nagging feeling than anything else, I loved this book, and even read it when I was on the exercise bike because it helped pass the time so quickly! I can't wait for the rest of the series to come out... I want to know what happens!
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley. This has in no way affected my view of, opinion on, or review of the book.