Is what I wrote immediately upon finishing this book. I tell you what, there have rarely been series that I feel such weird conflicting thoughts over. I was super peeved at the beginning of this book, getting myself all worked up at how annoyed I was, and then I went and started having a good time with it.
Bottom line: This series’ worldbuilding very often gets in the way of it being an enjoyable book to read. There is just WAY too much to remember, and way too many complications that the author has introduced: body switching, reincarnation/past lives, secret identities, not to mention just plain old secrets, on top of the non-linear narrative, and all of these characters that have one or more of the previous conditions all interacting with each other and having histories with each other that sometimes go back 15,000 years into the past. And it all compounds every book, so what was hard to remember and detangle back in book one is nigh on impossible unless you have an eidetic memory, or read all three back to back, by the time you get to this one.
Even then, it’s so complicated I’m not sure I would be able to fully figure it out. It’s like, yes, okay, you are a smart lady, and challenging narratives can be fun and rewarding, but there’s a line, and you are toeing it. Like, she fully stepped across that line for the first fifty to a hundred pages of this book and I was getting so frustrated I almost DNFed it and I never DNF books.
I did push through, largely helped by a detailed plot summary for books one and two that I think I found on Reddit (which wasn’t nearly enough, but left me feeling better than I had been), and honestly, after I just gave up trying to understand everything I was reading and went along for the ride. At about the 150-200 page mark, the book finally got me, and actually, it’s my favorite of the three so far. The character dynamics between our two leads and Teraeth SPOILERS their shared paramour END SPOILERS were great, and Lyons finally starts letting us in on some secrets, and the main background of the conflict, as well as giving us new context for things we thought we understood, but turns out we didn’t. The last half of the book was actually really fucking good, and this book as a whole seems like an excellent pivot point to the series’ eventual conclusion. END SPOILERS That she’s just going for it with the polyamory between Kihrin, Janel, and Teraeth makes me so happy END SPOILERS. The main danger of the books turns out to be really frightening, and seems like something that is impossible to overcome. And the ending of the book was just like, okay, what??
But I nearly gave up on it and hated it for a time, and that’s not good! Your book should make your readers curious to find out what happens next, not want to give up in frustration, but you can’t do that without a solid foundation of backstory and context and character relations that your readers can hold in their minds. I had no solid foundation for the first part of this book and I did not like it.
So, all in all, glad I pushed through and I do ultimately think the challenge is worth it in this case; the payoff was really satisfying. But the execution getting there was off for a bit and nearly lost me.
I hope I don’t have similar experiences going into the last two books because I’m now really curious to see how she’s going to end this.
[3.5 stars, rounding up]