This series has some weird hold on me. I don’t believe in finishing things I don’t enjoy. I am proud of my DNFs. I do not believe that guilty pleasures are a thing – either enjoy a thing or don’t. This is not a completionist herculean task and I am not ashamed of reading them. I just don’t understand it. I do not like these books. I find the plot painfully predictable, the characters unbelievably stupid, dramatic when it makes no sense and totally chill when they ought to be reacting, the exposition dumps are as endless as they are pointless, and the editing so bad even I noticed. I finished this book (the second in the series) in 2 days.
Plot: Poppy has just discovered that the boy she liked was not a guard at all but the immortal prince everyone had been very subtly foreshadowing for several hundred pages. Now that she finally knows he lied to her, she tries to stab him (good girl) and he proposes, because he’s into that (also some other reasons we all definitely believe). They’re on their way to Atlantia (ugh) to get married because somehow this will solve things? Shenanigans ensue.
Here’s an example of how characterization works. Our heroes have ended up at an inn with an Only One Bed situation, and he goes out of his way to reassure her that they can share, because he wouldn’t “ever do something you don’t want from me […] because I’ve never been that kind of person.” This is a person who, on the record, has hidden information from her specifically for the purpose of having her consent to sex that she otherwise would not have consented to. You’re definitely that kind of person, Casteel.
But of course, he’s the good guy. We’re supposed to cheer on him. So while Poppy is angry at him for hundreds of pages about things he couldn’t control (e.g. other people’s unprompted actions) or things that are fairly reasonable (kidnapping a valuable asset of an enemy to trade back to said enemy for your own high value asset), she’s not mad about how he tricked her, a completely sheltered girl, into sex, literally just for the fun of it.
The author seems to actually be quite aware of consent and this book does not have any of these sketchy issues, but it feels like a situation of her wanting to put sex in without doing the big, extremely obvious reveal till later, and the consequences of those priorities spill over into this book, making characters act incoherently.
Here is an example of the quality of the editing:
“Not when you think about how long it takes to rear a wolven. Beckeett may resemble a mortal who is no older than thirteen, but in reality, he is older than you by many years. So is Quentyn.”
That made sense. Casteel had said that aging slowed once an Atlantian entered the Culling. Quentyn may look my age or slightly younger, but he was most likely years older than me.
I’m not editing (though I did add the bolding). These sentences are consecutive in the book. A good editor would have reduced the size of this book by at least a third. It reads like fanfiction (in that it has a complete absence of the sort of polish you expect from a novel released by a traditional publisher).
Look, I don’t like to shit on books. I really don’t. The reason I’m focusing on these issues here is that (a) they are relentless, and (b) other reviews do not raise them. There are plenty of very positive reviews of this book and they underplay or ignore these issues. They won’t bother every reader (obviously), but if this kind of stuff bothers you, steer clear.
If however you’re looking for a Twilight story that has no love triangle, a ton of fairly well written sex scenes, and a heroine with at least an iota of personality, this will probably be right up your alley.