The Ruptured Sky (Gardens of War and Wasteland #1), by Jessica A. McMinn

17 Jul 2023

The Book

The Ruptured Sky
Series: Gardens of War & Wasteland
Pages: 383
Age Group: Adult
Published on 4 Apr 2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Dark Fantasy
Available on:


Princess Amikharlia likes a fight.

Abandoning her homeland, she travels across the ruins of Whyt’hallen to take up the hunt against the mutated remnants of a magical war that killed the gods and tore the sky asunder.

But these vicious beasts are not the darkest shadow hanging over Amika's life—it's the forbidden magic she’s hidden since childhood … and what would happen if it were discovered.

On the trail of a dangerous mark, Amika uncovers a madman who is more than what he seems. He claims her unnatural gifts are prophesied to restore the goddess to her throne, protecting Whyt’hallen from those who seek to rule in her stead

.In return for her help, he offers her training—training that will allow her to control her powers before they control her. But following the prophecy means Amika must relinquish her hard-won liberty … and destroy the world in the process.

With a dark power rising in the east, threatening to enslave her people, Amika’s options grow ever slimmer. She must confront her unwillingness to walk the path of destiny’s design—or risk the rise of a malevolent new god.

But can she devastate Whyt’hallen in order to save it?  

My Review

“This was never about swords, Amika. Not about goddesses or prophecies or mending the Tear in the fucking sky—it was about Kio. And we can't abandon him.”

The Ruptured Sky is a grimdark (or dark fantasy novel, depending on who you ask) fantasy novel, one of the SPFBO9 entrants (at the time I'm writing this lines semifinalist), and the first book on the Gardens of War and Wasteland quartet, written by the Aussie author Jessica A. McMinn. A complex multi-POV adventure, with a unique setting and badass characters, are some of the elements that made this book so enjoyable for me.

She readied her sword, but Redda made to cleave at the ukarat's neck, forcing her to roll aside. The vicious blow was ill-timed, slashing the beast's flank instead. It howled as its blood splashed across Amika's face, so dark it ran black.

Amikharlia is a runaway princess turned into a rogue demon hunter, who has been hiding magical power for most of her life. She's just looking to gain more control over her life; but when a catastrophic expedition puts her in the middle of an ancient prophecy, which implies the resurrection of an ancient goddess that might end the world, she will be forced to choose between accepting her destiny (and learning to control her powers with the help of a mysterious and manipulative man), or continue her fight for freedom.
But Amika is only one of the POVs we will be following during this book, as the Tower is trying to capture her, sending behind her one of its acolytes, Rei. But Rei was also one of the childhood friends of Amika, making his task even more difficult, and at some point, he will be between the sword and the wall, having to decide what he values more: his friend or his life tied to the Tower.
Prince Kiokharen is struggling with his life, practically devoid of any motivation; he's mostly drinking and spending time without doing anything productive. Probably a character that felt a little bit flat during the first half of the book for me, but he gets a big narrative weight once his kingdom gets invaded and he has to assume the burden of power.

Rei gingerly pulled back the dressing to peek at the wound. He grimaced as tendrils of black blood leaked between the ribboned flesh. It would never heal nicely. But what was another scar? His body was covered in all manner of cuts, scrapes and burns. Some from discipline. Others from enemies. And even more predating his time at the Tower.

Accompanying this cast of characters, we will have an additional POV, Kriah, the grandson of Greish'tal, the First Son that is trying to tie the rest of the people to the prophecy. While he's more of a supporting character for a big part of the story, it plays an important role to make it advance.

Kriah’s hand curled around the bow. He’d only had it a few years and was hesitant to place it in the hands of a stranger. Triet’haal, it was called—the Hawk. Named for the way it shot arrows through the forest, and for the decorative birds carved into the riser. Until now, it had been his only friend. 

In general, characters are rather grey-morale, despite I found myself trying to justify many of their decisions at a point. The story is gritty and dark, with plenty of action scenes that make this book really fast to read (I binged it for two days). Despite the age of the characters, don't fool yourselves into thinking this might be YA/NA, as the author is not shy in portraying the darkest aspects of humanity.

It is incredible the amount of worldbuilding McMinn has included in this book without any kind of info dumping; we get to know a big part of Whyt'hallen while at the same time, small details get explored. It is true that I would have loved to know more about the different gods, but I hope it gets expanded in the following books.

"You were born for this, Amikharlia. You cannot run." 
But she'd run from her family and her royal obligations, and she could run from this too. Amikharlia Elys Holani was no coward - but she wasn't a pawn, either.

The Ruptured Sky is an excellent debut, a novel that will be loved by all the grimdark aficionados. McMinn not only introduces a big world, but a character-driven story that I can't wait to see how it evolves in the following books!

The Author/s

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn is a grimdark fantasy author based in regional Australia with a passion for dark fantasy, dark coffee and cats (which, let’s face it, are all dark inside).

Since graduating from the University of Wollongong with Distinction in BCA (Creative Writing) and BA (Japanese), Jessica spent five years in Japan teaching English while refining her writing craft.

She now works as a freelance writer and offers editing and coaching services to authors. When she is not writing (which is more often than you’d think), Jessica can be found raising her two beautiful children or immersed in an audiobook while drawing, crafting or playing video games.

Her debut novel, The Ruptured Sky, is the first installment in the gritty dark fantasy quartet, Gardens of War & Wasteland, and is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb, Anna Stephens and R F Kuang.