Review: Lord of the White Hell (The Cadeleonian Series #1) by Ginn Hale

Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.

But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.

However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram's as well.


This was my first Ginn Hale and what a way to get introduced to an author!

If you're a fan of high fantasy and haven't yet got around to reading this, it is a must read. Lord of the White Hell has sensational world building that's an enticing blend of uniquely modern and historical, layered characters, a beguiling central relationship with a multidimensional plot too!

Typically YA is hit or miss for me due to unnecessary dramatics and teen angst, but there was none of that here. The growing pains herein struck a chord. Broader in scope than your average teen romance with a Harry Potter vibe and a timeless romance Lord of the White Hell tackles some divisive issues with aplomb and yet remains entertaining rather than preachy. The hurdles Javier and Kiram face are challenging regardless of age but become even moreso when compounded with struggling to find one's identity.

Javier is that strange brew of revered and feared as the keeper of the white hell. He's sort of the defacto leader of the Hellions, the cool kids club at Sagrada, mostly owing to his being a duke but also due to his prowess in the war arts which are of preeminent importance to Cadeleonians. Being the only remaining Tornesal imbues him with a presence and wisdom that belie his age, but it is a heavy cross for one so young to bear and those brief cracks in his facade broke my heart.

Kiram is Haldiim, the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy. He's also a bit of child prodigy mechanist and an intellectual. Determined to prove himself to the Cadeleonians as capable while making the most of his time away from home, he is shrewd, resilient and an egalitarian. He's incredibly close to his family, whom he keeps in regular contact with via letters, and that endeared him to me. Assigned as Javier's Underclassman and roommate the attraction between them is instantaneous but in Cadeleonian society homosexuality is verboten. Thus begins the building of tension and the longing. I ❤️ the longing books soooo much!

Kiram is the sole narrator and I always find myself impressed when I feel like I know all the characters without the benefit of being inside their heads. Not only do I feel like that about Javier but Fedeles, Nestor and Elezar. So many of the secondary characters are fleshed out and add to the allure of this narrative.

Their lively banter and sharp wits kept me engaged and wanting more. Javier's arrogant and puckish nature pits well against Kiram's more reserved and contemplative one. They are both kind and generous of spirit, possesses a startling amount of self-assurance for teens and are stubborn, so they are well matched in temperament.

His body ached just thinking of the mistakes that he longed to make.

Their desire for each other becomes increasingly ardent as they grow closer, spending more time together training Kiram for the autumn tournament, horseback riding and learning the war arts, something that isn't part of Haldiim curriculum or culture for that matter. So prepare yourself for a slow burn with furtive moments touching, epic tension, desperate kisses and few sexy times.

Lord of the White Hell is splendidly crafted and perfectly balanced between character/relationship development and plot; numerous threads are interwoven to keep the pace steady. A myriad of details bring this world to life from their daily routines to customs and traditions, especially the glorious bells. I loved the bells.

Part 1 ends on a funky and conflictual note, though, so having the second book on hand would be advisable. I've already begun the second because I had to know all the things and I sort of wish I could reserve rating this one until I've finished that one but *shrugs*

Highly recommend to high fantasy and YA/NA fans.

A review copy was provided.

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