The Fractured Empire by Robin D Mahle

The Fractured Empire is the first in the Worlds Apart series and takes place on the fifth anniversary of The Silent Explosion when Adelaide lost her mother and sister and Clark lost his father.

“Clark and Adelaide think their lives can’t get any worse. Until they meet each other.”

The style of this book is distinctly steampunk rather than the medieval style that I am used to with ElBin books. I was nervous about this as I generally don’t read books in a steampunk setting but I did find I really enjoyed it. To me the world building wasn’t quite as clear in my mind but I’m not sure if this was because I wasn’t reading a physical book.

Despite this, The Fractured Empire met all my expectations and more! How can it not when it includes all my favourite tropes such as enemies to lovers and, of course, the old forced shared-bed situation.

“who kidnapped someone and then introduced themselves? Yet here we were”

The characters are amazing, of course they are! There isn’t an underdeveloped or “2D” character in sight as we follow Addie, Clark and his 2 brothers around the Ceithren Empire, desperately seeking answers … and finding some that they didn’t expect!

Clark and Addie’s relationship is a rollercoaster! The term enemies-to-lovers does not do this pair justice, it’s more like enemies-to-almost lovers-to- definite enemies- to- begrudging colleagues. There is a definite attraction though and it is very physical to begin with: there are a lot of references to Clark’s muscles, Addie’s dress slipping down etc. I have read other reviews where they use this to say that the romance relationship is shallow but I don’t believe this is the case, they are both quite young as characters and it merely demonstrates, in my opinion, how they are constantly drawn to each other.

The best thing about Clark and Addie’s dynamic is 100% the amount of bickering and sarcasm. Oh the amount of sarcasm in this book speaks to my soul and it is here where I think the audiobook may have been better than a physical book (I know, I know! Don’t shoot!) The narrators for Clark and Addie really captured the personalities of the characters, even down to the pacing of their reading and, in Addie’s case, the haughty tones.

From the mysterious best friend Nell (who I’m still not sure if I trust or not) to Addie’s oppressive Director father to the playboy prince: the cast of supporting characters deserves an honourable mention, particularly Gunther. If you aren’t in love with Gunther we can’t be friends – it’s as simple as that!

“I gave them a mocking salute before I turned and jumped, right out the hundredth story window”

The Fractured Empire presents twists upon twists and constantly changes who you can trust but still manages to flow really well and keep the reader engaged. This is a testament to the writing of Robin but also to the narrators of the audiobook, Cris Dukehart and Graham Halstead. Some small snippets felt like they were recorded in sections and sounded out of place but on the whole the pair really embodied the characters and kept me hooked.

Thank you to Robin Mahle for providing a free copy of the audiobook of The Fractured Empire. My TBR list however, does not thank you as it now has 3 more additions to it! (*Edit* 4! I found out about the prequel!)

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