Review: State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury (Sorrow #1)

Title: State of Sorrow

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 452

Published: 1st March 2018

⭐️ 5 / 5

This was my favourite book of 2018, but it has taken until my re-read this week to finally write a review!

State of Sorrow is a political YA fantasy novel set in a world trapped in a state of mourning for our protagonist’s, Sorrow Ventaxis, dead older brother Mael. Sorrow is trapped living a sorrowful life. She feels cursed by her name and the way her mother named her, she is constantly in the shadow of the brother she never even met and she is hiding her illegal relationship with her childhood friend from her best friend Irris and her father Charon, who is the closest person to a father Sorrow has ever had in her life. Her real father, Harun Ventaxis, wallows in his own grief and self-pity never calling Sorrow by her name, only ‘daughter’.

Sorrow is a fantastic protagonist. Deeply flawed and relatable, I could really get behind her as a reader and really rooted for her throughout. She really is trying her best to deal with all sorts of horrific issues and all I wanted was for her to succeed and be happy. 18-year-old Sorrow has so many personal battles to overcome and then must fight for her home and her country too. Her reactions flesh her out as a character and show excellent character development throughout the novel. Irris Day is the kind of best friend everyone needs in life. She is an utter sweetheart of a character and Sorrow is lucky to have her. Rasmus is a gem and must be protected at all costs – I’m more than a little in love with him. Luvian is the kind of character you can’t help but smile and/or chuckle at every time he appears on the page. Witty and brilliant, I really hope we see some more of him in Song of Sorrow. This novel also contains a fantastic villain. He is so layered a clever and I absolutely adore to despise him. Charon Day is a father figure to Sorrow in the book and I just want to hug him. He also happens to be in a wheelchair. This is written so well and it’s really lovely to see this kind of representation in a ya novel. I don’t remember reading any other ya books with disabled characters so this was a first for me (please recommend some books to me in the comments that have this representation in). I love the entire cast of characters and think anyone reading the novel will love them too.

Some of the themes tackled in this book include first love, friendship, constructions of a family, political games, death and loss, and the grip of addiction. The plot is so cleverly woven together with each theme almost weaving a different thread through the plot and coming seamlessly together. I was gripped from start to finish and always wanted to know what was coming next. There is a massive mic-drop reveal at the end of the novel that I did not see coming the first time I read this book. This provides one of the best cliffhanger endings I have ever read, as much as the year wait for book two has destroyed me. This book also contains the BEST foreshadowing I have ever read too. You don’t even notice it’s happening the first read through but once you know, you spend the re-read exclaiming ‘oh sh*t’ periodically throughout and it is utter genius.

I cannot say enough good things about this book, I just urge everyone to buy and read a copy because this everything I needed at the time I read it in 2018 and almost more so now. The subtle social political commentary is the kind of remedy I think we’ve all needed since 2016 (unless I’m seeing more imagined references – hashtag Mr Braithwaite. Sorry Melinda 😂 – see below for this gem of my imagination).

Bring on Song of Sorrow! Happy reading.


Sorrow all but rules the Court of Tears, in a land gripped by perpetual grief, forever mourning her brother who died just days before Sorrow was born. By day she governs in place of her father, by night she seeks secret solace in the arms of the boy she’s loved since childhood. But when her brother is seemingly found alive, and intent on taking control, Sorrow has to choose whether to step aside for a stranger who might not be who he claims to be, or embark on a power struggle for a position she never really wanted.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.
I’m officially hallucinating musical theatre references into books…

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