Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Flatiron Books
US Pub Date: Oct 8, 2019
Genre: Adult Fantasy
In Two Sentences:
Alex is taken from her dead-end life and thrown into the secret magical societies at Yale. But between the disappearance of her mentor and a mysterious death Alex has a lot to figure out.
I know I’ve talked about this book on Twitter and Instagram as I made my way through it and my basic thoughts: It reads like a sequel and I didn’t care about any of the characters and honestly I don’t know why I didn’t DNF it. I really wanted to like it but it just fell so short for me. I probably won’t be continuing with the series unless book two gets really really rave reviews.
This book is also not for the faint of heart. There are trigger warnings for basically everything. I’ve taken Kat’s list so I don’t forget anything; drug use, overdosing, murder, death, loss of a loved one, rituals, gore, PTSD depiction, grief depiction, self-harm, bloodletting, rape, child rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, sexual assault on video, talk of suicide, blackmail, physical abuse, magical date rape drug, forced eating of human waste, and racism.
The first problem I had with this book was that there was basically non-existent setup. We were thrown into the story after the disappearance, right when the murder happened but we were expected to actually care this guy had disappeared. It attempted to make that connection with flashbacks but it just wasn’t done very well.
I actually wonder if this is just Bardugo’s writing style. I had read Six of Crows but was lost because there wasn’t much world building but I thought at the time it was because I hadn’t read the Grishaverse yet. I didn’t have the problem with the first Grisha book. It honestly just might be me.
The next problem was kind of touched upon within the first problem. There were too many storylines. There was the disappearance, the murder, the ghost’s storyline. Pick one– or even two– but do them well and in depth. I was constantly left wondering how the different storylines connected but Alex knew instantly so I felt like I was always five steps behind. It didn’t really all come together until the last 40 pages.
It jumped around. This book goes between the past and the present, but even when it talks about the present it goes into the past. It makes me wonder if it had been written as two separate books and then meshed together. It just added to the overall confusion of the book.
I feel like this is reading as more of a critique paper because there was SO MUCH potential and I feel like a lot of it could have been solved and it’s a shame I didn’t like it. I don’t want to deter anyone away from reading it though so I know Piera gave it a good review on her YouTube channel, Shanah wrote about it on her blog