I’d been rejected for this ARC so many times that I thought I would have to wait a long time after the release to get it from the library. But then I got selected for Rin’s street team and got the advance copy and I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was. But after finishing the book, my enthusiasm has dulled a little.
The author has written at length on twitter about what this book means to her and why she wrote it, particularly considering it’s the first one she ever did, so I was very much moved by it all and wanted to read it as soon as I got it in my hands. But I guess sometimes we put too much expectations on our favorite authors and it doesn’t feel good when their books don’t live up to them. This is the 5th book by the author I’m reading and the first ever where I didn’t like the characters or the writing much.
I won’t deny that the themes the author discusses in this one are very important and her frustration with it all comes through very well. Draconian immigration and refugee policies, child separations and abuse, governments and corporations working hand in hand to deceive the common populace and exploiting resources to make profits, racism, homophobia – all of these issues are discussed and challenged and I felt all the emotions that the characters were feeling. But it’s the rest of the story that didn’t really connect with me.
There was really no direction as to where it was going, the characters just seemed to react to whatever was happening to them and didn’t seem to know much else. There were so many of them that I got quite confused for a while until I got used to them but none of them really felt compelling enough. There is a lot (and I mean a lot) of banter between the characters but it completely felt forced which disappointed me a lot. I really live for great banter and dialogue, and I just can’t get over how stilted and out of place most of it felt in this story. The author also tries to incorporate so many fairytales and myths into the narrative that it stopped making sense after a while and I couldn’t be bothered to know what it was leading towards. The last few chapters were action packed and quite cool and the epilogue ends on a very unexpected cliffhanger, so thankfully it ended on a better note than I thought it would.
To conclude, I don’t wanna diss on the book too much because it’s my favorite author but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. There are a lot of important themes discussed and the story has a lot of fairytales from around the world integrated, so if that fascinates you, maybe you should check it out. If you are fans of the author’s Bone Witch trilogy and are looking for something like that, then this is not it. The last line is a great hook to make me interested in the sequel, but it’s not gonna make any of my anticipated lists like this one did, and I still haven’t made up my mind if I wanna continue.
PS: Thank you to Sourcebooks and Rin Chupeco for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.