This did NOT go where I thought it was going. What the flippin’ heck. This book lulled me into complacency, then ripped the rug out from under my feet and pushed me down the stairs, where I landed in a pool of razor sharp knives. I am bleeding out currently. And the thing is! I should have known better! I have read Captive Prince! I know she is tricksy. I should have known she wouldn’t write a cookie cutter YA fantasy book, even though during the first half of this I was convinced that was what was happening. And I thought it was fine. And then about halfway through, as previously mentioned: rug, stairs, knives.
I almost wanted to give this five stars, but really, the first half wasn’t exactly a revelatory reading experience, and it felt more inf0-dumpy than even I (as someone who loves a good infodump) could handle. But the last half was so good I kind of still want to do it. This book, I don’t even know where it can go from here. What is going to happen! How long do I have to wait! Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that if I were to re-read knowing the arc of the whole book, the first half would be better in retrospect. So maybe I’ll settle on 4.5 stars, rounded down. Yeah, let’s go with that.
Anyway, I don’t actually want to say too much about this because it was fun not knowing anything and letting the book take you for a ride, but I will say that this is a multi-perspective fantasy set in an alternate 1821 England where there used to be magic in the world that has all but faded by now. There was a Dark King and a Lady and blah blah, good vs evil, etc. Our main characters are Will, the tragic orphan on the run with a mysterious past and even more mysterious destiny; Violet, the half-Indian, half-British bastard daughter of a man with connections to the most powerful man in London, who is hell-bent on bringing back the Dark King to rule the world; and Katherine, the seventeen year old fiancé of said powerful man. Will and Violet get the lion’s share (heh, you’ll see why this is a fun pun after you read the book) of the POV, though. They are both sucked into a plot to prevent the return of the Dark King when they join an ancient order of Stewards who have been keeping the fight alive and remembering the past for generations. So that’s where we’re starting.
I will say that it was still refreshing, even when I thought this was a more standard YA fantasy, for it to be so well-written (and free of present tense!). I liked the characters right away, and the world felt vivid and lived in. So when the plot took several turns later on, the effect was that I was quickly all in on this story.
Highly recommend this one, and can’t wait for book two. I hope it’s soon 🙁