My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was full of surprises for me from the very beginning. There were so many moments I expected one thing and it went in a completely different direction. In a very good way though. The story kept me engaged just knowing I didn’t know what would happen.
The cast of characters is perfect. There was a nice balance of character types both in the main characters as well as the secondary ones. While the story and lore behind everything were really interesting, it’s the characters that really make this book what it is.
All My Thoughts
May contain spoilers.
I was completely blindsided by this book in the best possible way. Some of the themes felt familiar when starting. Teenagers from magical families and a tournament to the death. This book however takes these concepts in a darker direction than I thought it would.
When there are multiple points of view in a book I tend to get a bit put off, but this book handled it very well. Each character had a very distinct voice and a unique life, so nothing felt repetitive at all. There are seven teens involved in this tournament, the perspective shifts between four of them, Alistair, Briony, Isobel, and Gavin. Each of these characters has different plans once they enter the tournament and nothing goes the way they expect it to. No one is truly who they appear to be. It’s fascinating to see the kinds of sacrifices they are willing to make to achieve their goals, and which ones they aren’t. These situations are especially where I get so surprised. For instance, Briony cutting off her sister’s finger to obtain a ring that allows her to enter the tournament is something I did NOT expect. And the rest of the characters continue to be full of these types of surprises.
I found the magic system interesting in this world. The author eases us into the explanation of how things work gradually. There never seems to be any info-dumping or monologues of explanation which is great, though as a reader it does start you out a bit lost until pieces fall into place. This is where one of the key story elements helps as well. The story opens with their world, history, and secrets being exposed because of an anonymously published book that tells all. I found this to be a great framing device to help us get a sense of what’s going on and pull us into the details. The magic system itself did take a bit longer to fully grasp but it did click into place fairly easily after a bit. Though the story and lore are great, it’s the characters that really drive this story forward.
I both loved and didn’t love the ending though. As a way to guarantee I read the next one, it worked perfectly. I won’t go into a lot of details here because I feel like it is an ending that needs to be experienced. I was stunned silent by the events, but it happened and ended so abruptly that it also felt a bit awkward.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book and constantly surprised through reading it. So much happened that I was not expecting that made it fun and terrifying. Highly recommended for that as well as excellent characters.