The Tainted Cup
by Robert Jackson Bennett
Indie Author: No
Kindle Unlimited: No
Publication Date: 2.6.2024

Epic Fantasy
Traditional Detective Mysteries
Action & Adventure Fantasy

Page Count: 432 Pages


In Daretana’s most opulent mansion, a high Imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree spontaneously erupted from his body. Even in this canton at the borders of the Empire, where contagions abound and the blood of the Leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death at once terrifying and impossible.

Called in to investigate this mystery is Ana Dolabra, an investigator whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities.

At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol. Din is an engraver, magically altered to possess a perfect memory. His job is to observe and report, and act as his superior’s eyes and ears–quite literally, in this case, as among Ana’s quirks are her insistence on wearing a blindfold at all times, and her refusal to step outside the walls of her home.

Din is most perplexed by Ana’s ravenous appetite for information and her mind’s frenzied leaps—not to mention her cheerful disregard for propriety and the apparent joy she takes in scandalizing her young counterpart. Yet as the case unfolds and Ana makes one startling deduction after the next, he finds it hard to deny that she is, indeed, the Empire’s greatest detective.

As the two close in on a mastermind and uncover a scheme that threatens the safety of the Empire itself, Din realizes he’s barely begun to assemble the puzzle that is Ana Dolabra—and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep his own secrets safe from her piercing intellect.

Featuring an unforgettable Holmes-and-Watson style pairing, a gloriously labyrinthine plot, and a haunting and wholly original fantasy world, The Tainted Cup brilliantly reinvents the classic mystery tale.

Sabetha’s Review:

Hilarious, complex, everything you love about the first book in what looks to be a sprawling epic fantasy world. Economics, power hungry, and enough mystery left to leave me excited for book 2.

The banter between Ana and Dinios is top notch. Their vastly different life experiences make them the perfect duo to go on a quest. We get bits and pieces of their past throughout the story, and each nuggets of Ana’s creates more of a mystery around the characters leaving us with a nice pay off by the end of the book.

The way the author plays with economics, and social constructions is fascinating. There are so many moving parts that we get snippets of it feels like a lot of care and thought went into the world building. Especially how the magic system works. I am 100% here for worlds that realize with great power, comes great sacrifice.

As fast as the mystery goes, everything is not what it seems in so many ways. Each character has many motivations for wanting specifics people dead and there’s a lot to unpack. Which is crazy when you think about the magical ability Dinios has. But it goes to show, even if you have the majority of the pieces, you still don’t know the whole story.

Not to mention the epic ‘monsters’ that I am dying to know more about. We only glimpse the reason for the walls and science, but I am on edge to get more backstory on how they fit into the world. This book was packed full of suspense all the way to the end of the story.

You’ll enjoy this book if you love multi level epic fantasies that create series long mysteries while solving single book mysteries. It’s got chosen one vibes, with the crotchety wise one, wrapped up in a sea of ‘anyone’s a suspect’ characters.

Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of this book!

Read more reviews from Sabetha!

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