BINGO – Dough (because one of the authors last name is Foody and the characters deal with classism throughout the book)
Let’s just get this out of the way. This book was not for me.
Every 20 years, the Blood Veil falls and 7 teenagers fight to the death in a tournament to determine which family will control High Magick in Ilvernath. Common magick is, well, common enough for small fixes in everyday life, but high magick is where the real power is. For centuries, Ilvernath has escaped the public’s eye and has let this curse run its course without issue or interference. But this year, someone has published a tell-all book about the town, the curse, the tournament, and the 7 families who participate each year. Amidst the curse-chasers, paparazzi, and government officials swarming the town, the tournament begins for Alistair Lowe, Isobel Macaslan, Gavin Greave, Briony Thorburn, and three others whose names are not that important.
Alistar is the broody, dark one. Gavin is the underdog with a chip on his shoulder. Briony is… the protector? Isobel is also there. I just finished this book two days ago and that’s about all the characterization I can remember. There’s just not a lot here. I think the main issue is that each of these four characters is a narrator with the point of view switching each chapter. There’s not really an opportunity to get to know them well because the focus keeps shifting too rapidly.
Additionally there are many themes that are touched on throughout the book but never really explored. There’s a romance plot line that is barely there. There’s a slight exploration of classism. There’s a hint of an exploration of grief and trauma. But again, each of these characters experiences something different, so we never really get a chance to sink into any of these themes.
Spoilers ahead for the ending. Highlight below if you want to read.
This is not a proper ending. The main plot line throughout is how to end the tournament. Finally Isobel or Briony (I honestly cannot remember which one) convinces everyone to work together to not murder each other but instead to break the curse that forces the families to compete every 20 years. We spend chapter after chapter after chapter discussing a plan and convincing everyone to agree to the plan. Everyone knows the part they play in the plan. They are about to start the plan. And then the book is over. There is zero resolution at all. For any character. Or any plot line. It really feels like the authors were given a maximum page number from the publishers and they reached that max sooner than they expected. Oh, also, in the last few chapters, a minor character is revealed to not only be the author or the tell-all book but also a former champion? That no one in the town recognizes? And this reveal serves no purpose other than to elicit a gasp because then the book is over!
The magic system based on storing spells and curses into rings is cool.
This is the first in duology, but I won’t be reading any further.