Group Review: Impossible Things by Kate Johnson

Where did you get the book: Bought/ARC offered by the publisher
Publisher: Choc lit Books
Release Date: Out now

Kael Vapensigsson is one of the elite Chosen—a Warlord whose strength comes from the gods themselves. But despite all his power and prestige, he is plagued by a prophecy that threatens to destroy everything he loves.

impossiblethingsWhen Kael summons Ishtaer to his room and discovers the marks of the Chosen on her body, including the revered mark of the Warrior, both Warlord and slave seem to have met their match.

But as their lives become increasingly entangled and endangered, Ishtaer is forced to test whether the Chosen ever have the ability to choose their own fate.

Lou: When Has first told me about this book, I wasn’t quite sure if I should read it. The last book, or should I say series, I read featuring a Warlord hero was Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan. And nobody–and I mean nobody–has come close to that masterpiece featuring Keir and Lara. But Has kept pushing me and so I finally caved in. And I’m glad I caved in despite some of the issues I had with the book because it was an enjoyable read with a great cast of characters. Kael is a Warlord and whilst he’s done Warlord stuff like killing and sword-fighting, and Warlord stuff, he was quite humorous. He almost wore a facade of what a Warlord should be like. I liked him. I also liked the heroine, Ishtaer. Up until Kael came across her in an almost slave encampment, Ishtaer had a terrible and horrifying existence. She was beaten and starved by her captive, and she was also raped by the engineering of her captive.

While I liked Ishtaer, I didn’t like how the author made her into this almost mary sue character where she was the best of all of the gifts that the God granted her. I wished she had fewer gifts. It felt as if the author had to compensate Ishtaer for her what she had to go through but instead of it being believable, it came across as Mary Sueish, especially when Ishtaer had to go through another terrible experience towards the end of the book. But despite my issues, I really did enjoy the worldbuilding and the author’s voice. The romance wasn’t instant, and Kael had to do some grovelling for behaving like an idiot. I loved at times that Ishtaer was stubborn, and there’s an empowering scene where Kael experiences a horror of Ishtaer’s past. Ishtaer was a wonderful character, despite her perfections, and she was by no means perfect when it came to her personality. Ishtaer does a lot of growing up in this book, and she is separated from Kael whilst she learns her Gifts.

I’d love to see more books set in this world and more of Kael and Istaer. All in all, I give Impossible Things a B-

Has: When I got offered the book, my book spidey senses were tingling and I definitely agree so many books are hard to live up to the Warprize trilogy by Elizabeth Vaughan. However, there was something compelling and enjoyable about IMPOSSIBLE THINGS but I agree about the heroine being too powerful, although I think the book and romance wouldn’t be as good if she didn’t go through a tortuous and dark past. And while I liked how the world-building was set up with people from certain blood-lines who were marked with gifts that were energized by crystals, I did find Ishtaer being thrice-marked as a Seer, a healer and a warrior made her almost too perfect especially when she in fact blind and was still able to fight defensively well with a sword. But I agree–I think it would have actually strengthened the book more if she was just double-marked as well. And I there were a couple of scenes that I had to suspend my belief. I would have also loved to see more of Ishtear’s training in her skills which I felt was glossed over and that would have helped to illustrate her breaking out of shell and building up her confidence. But I have to say the world that Kate Johnson created was a fantastic amalgamation of different cultures and time-periods, and that produced a colourful and vivid backdrop to the romance.

Kael is definitely not like a typical alpha warrior, and I really loved that his beta qualities were kept hidden, but revealed to only those who knew him well. It helped to define and flesh out his character beautifully. And even though I found Ishtear’s character to be too powerful with her magical abilities, I did think Kate Johnson’s depiction of Ishtear’s healing emotionally and psychologically from her past and slowly regaining her agency helped to make Ishtear more sympathetic and real. Those scenes, especially when she has a trigger moment later in the book, was well written and fleshed out her character for me because it was realistic and emotive. I also loved the scene soon after with Kael and that becomes a turning point in their relationship which is a real highlight of this book. Because their romance develops as a slow burn, the tension builds up subtly which reflects Ishtear’s slowly defeating her own demons and fears, and due to this I fell in love with their romance.

I also loved and enjoyed the touches of humour which gave the book another fun dimension and there was some humorous scenes with the supporting characters which just sparkled with dialogue that was sharp and snappy. Although for a historical fantasy setting, the language was very modern but I didn’t mind this as much as it added to the humorous overtones and the mishmash of the world-building.

Overall, Impossible Things has a wonderful and emotional touching romance which I enjoyed immensely but the world-building was also well fleshed out and I would also love to see more of this world because it certainly has a scope for more stories. But even though there were several issues with the book, this was one of the best fantasy romances I’ve read in awhile and I am so glad I listened to my spidey sense!

I also give Impossible Things a B-

E: I bought this book because a certain Has pushed it on me. It had been a while since I read an epic fantasy/romance so I decided to give it a try. I thought the basic idea of “Chosen” ones with tattoos identifying who has certain abilities and as a result of those powers gained certain privileges and responsibilities. I was also curious about the implied lack of choice in what those Chosen were allowed to do with their lives. Johnson created a very fascinating world with multiple sub-plots. I was never bored with the complexity but I think the story suffered a bit as a result. Some of the subplot solutions were too coincidental towards the end of the story but overall I enjoyed this story and I hope that Johnson continues writing in this world.

As this story started, I was very unimpressed by Kael because of his behavior towards Ishtaer and the situation she was in. Kael had a lot of work to do to become heroic in my eyes. For a very long time he struck me as being rather self-centered and doing actions for personal gain. Yes, I did discover he had personal responsibilities as well as an obligation to the tradition of the Chosen but I struggled believing he saw Ishtaer as an individual and not just a tool to gain favor/prestige. However, Ishtaer taught him a lot and he was able to redeem himself although I thought he was going to break my heart for a while.

Ishtaer went from being the lowest of the low to extremely high with a combination of abilities no one else possessed. I agree with my fellow Pushers that the leap was perhaps a bit much. I did appreciate how only one of her powers seemed to be innate, the others she had limitations or self-imposed blocks but even those didn’t stop her from becoming acclaimed. Her unique childhood did provide Ishtaer a different perspective that served her well as she struggled to find a place that felt like home, not just for herself but for those she encountered who also didn’t quite fit. She also knew what the responsibilities of being Chosen really meant and how with the privilege came sacrifice.

Johnson provided me with several aspects that I enjoyed. One was the slow growing romance with its ups and down. Everytime Kael took Ishtaer for granted, I loved how she used her growing confidence to topple his assumptions. I also thought the way Ishtaer could take control during a crisis yet feel much more uncertain during non-crisis or personal situations was very telling. It clarified the difference between confidence that came with a knowledge of your stature from birth versus the confidence in what was innate as being a Chosen.

As I stated earlier, I found Impossible Things an enjoyable read with some niggles. I thought the world-building was extremely vivid and full of possibility for future stories. The characters and their messy lives were also captivating but what I think really solidified my enjoyment of this story was Kael’s path to redemption. As much as Ishtaer’s life changed over the course of the story, she seemed more to grow into who she could have been while Kael had to change who he had become. I am looking forward to seeing what Johnson does with this world next.

I give Impossible Things a B

2 thoughts on “Group Review: Impossible Things by Kate Johnson”

  1. I am so glad I saw you guys talking about this book on Twitter. I devoured it and am telling other people to read it. I think that a Warlord Hero + Healer Heroine is “my thing”. I would LOVE to see more books from her in this world! It definitely left me wanting more.

  2. Hmmm. This book just didn’t do it for me and I typically like this sort of thing. The very modern slang was distracting and I was unpleasantly surprised with the YA feeling of the book. At one point when Istaer was new to the Academy someone was telling her where popular kids hung out (and I think they actually used those words). I almost stopped reading right there. For me this book didn’t come close to the sweeping love story that was so wonderful in Warlord and the humor fell very flat.

    On a more positive note, I typically like the books you give good reviews to so I’m looking forward to your next review!

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