State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury | Fantasy, politics, and a whole lot of grief

State of Sorrow

Goodreads | Book Depository •

A grief-stricken world void of colour and laughter. Stories that seem legendary, but were real eighteen years ago. A girl taking the chance she never realised she wanted. All of this – and more – you’ll find in State of Sorrow, and I guarantee you it’s worth the read.

Set in a dismal world of permanent grief as the chancellor mourns over a tragedy eighteen years ago, we follow the chancellor’s daughter, Sorrow, as she stands up for election and fights to take over her father’s chancellorship. As you can imagine from such a synopsis, the family dynamics are rocky to begin with, but the family elements feature so much more prominently in this book than I was expecting. The temptation to off all family relations the second drama begins in a book out of convenience is so often followed, but instead Melinda Salisbury incorporated them into the story and made them a dominant part of it, surrounding our main protagonist with a whole host of people and varying, conflicting opinions. A point I think is especially important when the story itself is politically based.

Who says politics is boring?! I loved seeing a teenage girl navigate her way through the politics of her world, seeking advice and forming her own stance on how things should be run. I loved seeing how intense things can get, but how it’s entirely worth it. I loved how in today’s society especially, reading this story – even in a fantasy setting – came off as empowering and motivational. Because this is what I’d love to see more of in YA. When so many people look down on teenagers and everything they do, let books like this empower those teens and dare people to look down on them again. PLEASE.

As for the story itself, there was not one moment where I wasn’t gripped. Which is saying a lot, considering I had to take extended breaks from reading to focus on uni work. But nope – every single time I picked up this book, I was instantly drawn back into the world. I found myself repeating “just one more chapter” numerous times when considering putting it down, only to end up reading another hundred pages purely by accident. It was fascinating learning about the world and its history, even more so when the smaller details of its effects began to unravel. Reading about a world tamed into showing no signs of happiness was enthralling to me, because how can such a thing work?

If there’s one thing I was particularly impressed by, it had to be how Melinda Salisbury writes grief. So many times, I’ve read books featuring elements of grief that never quite seem…whole. They get the sadness, the distraught feelings, the standard things you think of. But this book captures how that one event can affect everyone, even those not directly involved. The elephant-in-the-room feeling around people who don’t quite know how to navigate the topic. The heavy atmosphere that instantly hits the second the subject is brought up. The way grief can become an obsession experience for a lot of people. It made for a darker read at times, and yet seeing the contrast between this and the tiny glimmers of happiness in the story helped lift my heart in a way. Seeing Sorrow’s amazement at the thought of colour, at people’s smiles, at anything that indicates something close to happiness was amazing to read, and I feel like the emotions were described perfectly.

I just feel like there’s so much going for this book. The plot was intense, the world rich, the characters all full of personality. And did I mention – one of the main characters has a wheelchair. Their hindrances are acknowledged without becoming weaknesses, it was simply something to be adapted to and that was fine. I’ve not see many YA fantasy books featuring prominent characters with disabilities, but the representation definitely needs to be a recurring thing.

With tensions pulling between darker atmospheres and lighter moments, politics and family drama, this book had me hooked from every word. I can’t wait for the second one to come out, because I just KNOW it’s going to be a good ‘n!


*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinion.


Rated 4.5/5 stars!

4.5 stars

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this if you’ve read it! Or if you haven’t read it, is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!


Until next time…