Review | The Jealousy of Jalice – Jesse Nolan Bailey

About the Book

The Realms have split apart, the Stones of Elation have been hidden, and warnings of dokojin drift among the tribes.

The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame.

It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem.

Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia’s delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land. 

Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice’s past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it.

388 pages (kindle)
Published on May 19, 2020
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I’ve been wanting to read The Jealousy of Jalice for a while. I love the cover art. The plot sounded interesting. Jesse Nolan Bailey is a good online personality, the kind that makes me want him to succeed. Plus, I know what it’s like, being an indie author and trying to be seen and heard. I want to do what I can to improve the plight of others. 

So here we are. 

Now, first things first, what I noticed about this book first, was the writing. That’s just how I roll. I can enjoy just about any style of prose, but I tend to like deliberate writing. I love it when I can tell the author put every single word in its place for a specific reason. Bailey’s writing is just that. It cuts like a knife. It’s direct and to the point, occasionally veering into beautiful at the most shocking times, which just makes the moments when he dips a toe into lyrical that much more impactful. More, though, there is nothing wasted here. Bailey is an author who has honed his craft and wastes nothing.

“Silence. That was the source of her distress. Even amongst the grisly scene, the absence of sound festered.” 

The Jealousy of Jalice throws you into the deep end. There’s no warmup, no flirtation. You either sink or you swim. It took me a little time to fully understand what was going on, but I think it was supposed to. I enjoyed how Bailey managed to drop me into the mess of it and kept me wanting more. There’s a lot to juggle when you start out a book with a bang. You’ve got to build the world, give the reader characters they care about, and present this plot and confusion in a way where the reader will want to push through to learn more. He does it quite well, and I will say that for readers who keep going, you will be well rewarded. 

The pace of the book is… almost aggressive. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but it’s the one I’m settling on. There’s always something happening, whether it is wham-bam action, battles, fight scenes and the like, or something else. Something… other. There are a whole lot of intimate moments that drive things along as well, plumbing the depths of his characters, as well as furthering the plot. The juxtaposition of these louder-than-life pulse-pounding moments, mixed with these personal reflections, or quite pauses between all the action was, quite honestly, one of my favorite parts of the book. And somehow, in some way, Bailey has managed to craft a book that relentlessly moves forward, and somehow make it both riveting and action-packed, as well as a slow-burn.

One thing I get kind of sick of, which I run into a lot with how much I read, are stories told in the typical fashion. Everything flows along a timeline in a certain way, and every voice fills a predictable role. I mean, I respect that, don’t get me wrong, but if you really want to wow me and put my butt in the chair, you’ll need to write a book that does something that most other books haven’t dared to do. Bailey bucks a lot of tradition in the Jealousy of Jalice.

For one thing, let me talk about the diversity, because it is so incredibly important and I think Bailey did a great job with portraying it. This book is LGBTQ+ friendly. There are people of all orientations and identities here. Numerous races, and a core cast of strong female leads. Furthermore, there is a wide range of personal opinion and perspective here as well, which I appreciated. Lots of different people climbing up the proverbial mountain in different ways. It’s a fantasy that strives to make sure everyone has a voice and a presence and I really want to stand up and acknowledge that. Diversity is so important in the books we read.

No star dies without a burst of final light. No constellation forms without a future meaning. Sahrumm steps into the tomorrows of the faithful and protects those that hold to infinite wisdom.

The worldbuilding is superb, an interesting blend of fantasy and SciFi. There’s a relationship between the world and the people, and magic abounds everywhere. The somewhat tribal way of life stands alongside some interesting elements like other realms, and magic that is used as a bridge between them. Everything has meaning, and while sometimes the language got a little heavy, I enjoyed flitting through the world, and trying to pick apart the many layers of meaning to what Bailey was creating here. It was, honestly, one of the most interestingly crafted worlds I’ve read in a long time, and I genuinely hope for more, because there is a ton of room for him to expand in some really unique, unpredictable ways. 

You don’t get all the answers here. A lot of things are presented that you just don’t fully grasp, and that’s fine. Not every book needs to answer every question. I do realize, however, that this has the potential to not satisfy some readers, so I feel the need to mention it. You will have questions. You will not get all the answers. That’s just the way it goes. 

There are so many small moments here that make huge, shocking differences in what happens. It’s the details that matter, and there are a lot of details. Things that don’t seem that important, end up making a world of difference. Emotions, memories, fleeting thoughts all matter, and I love that. This focus on small moments, on subtle choices, on a turn of phrase, or a memory that might mean nothing but ends up meaning everything, is something that I love so much I try to insert it into all of the books I write. I was thrilled to see Bailey’s focus on that sort of thing. It makes all the difference. Literally. 

“Darkness covered the forest like a spider’s web–insignificant at a casual glance, but fatal to anything trapped within.” 

There are a whole lot of new ideas in this book, characters that are fantastically flawed, with believable blind spots to their own shortcomings, each with their own goals and aims. Fantasy seems to always involve a few predictable things: a tragic story, an army, and a play for power. And while these things are all present in The Jealousy of Jalice, they are presented in a different way than I’d ever anticipated. Bailey isn’t afraid to turn left where everyone else would turn right. He flirts with new ideas, and experiments with new ways to tell a story. He writes aggressively, and yet has these moments of beauty that just floored me. Atmospheric, almost dovetailing into dreamlike, The Jealousy of Jalice was basically everything I’ve been looking for in my fantasy right now. 

If you’re sick of the standard story with a few subtle variations and you’re looking for a book that breathes new life into the genre, then look no further. I honestly cannot wait to see what Bailey comes up with next. 

This is the kind of book I’m after. 

4.5/5 stars


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