I suppose this is why I hesitate to give up on books (or series) even when I find them lacking. I felt that way about the Temeraire books at some point (like most people) but in finishing them enjoyed every little snippet of Temeraire and Iskierka I found.
I wrote at the end of the previous book:
I guess now I’m invested, I’ll read the third book as well, but I’m not like super INTO this book series
Happy to say that I will eat my words! I was very invested in the trials and tribulations of Harper and Rhen and Grey and Lia Mara this time around, and enjoyed their various POVs more or less equally. I don’t even think it’s a sunk cost type of fallacy, because it’s been a very long while since I’ve read the last book that I didn’t really remember much of what happened. This book managed to create legitimate stakes and consequences in a way that made it unclear to me how exactly things would end up.
Spoilers sort of abound but then again it’s the third book in a series, why are you reading this? In comparison to last book, which I felt did Harper dirty with its focus on drippy Grey, this book nicely balanced the various factions and presented them as equally compelling. Sylh Shallow has been starved of access to trade routes but had a vicious queen who ruled through fear but cared deeply about her people who fear magic enough to launch some casual terrorism. Emberfell has been casual cruel to its vassals but suffered terribly under Lilith and has done good recently but the prince is illegitimate. Everyone has reasons for what they did, and you can get behind them. There’s almost no one who is spared consequences of their actions except Noah and Jake who, in a refreshing twist on Bury Your Gays are the only couple who happily stay together without wrenching heartache and secrets.
That being said, I don’t know HOW Kemmerer thought that Rhen’s “I whipped my brother to the bone to get him to tell me his secret” was going to be held up as equivalent to Grey’s “I didn’t tell my brother that I was his brother.”
Er. One of these things is not like the other.
All in all, though, this was an excellent conclusion to this little trilogy, leaving me with understanding and compassion for these four young (at 20! you are! not! an adult!) people and their attempts at making the best they can in a funny world. The books ends on a clear opening for a new trilogy but with enough closure that you wouldn’t feel like you’ve been cheated of an ending. If anything, the lack of entirely neat solutions (view spoiler) merely adds to the sense of realism/consequences that Kemmerer brought to her Beauty and the Beast-inspired world.