Sometimes you’ll throw yourself into a book, reach the end and go “is that it? For real?”
I think some books lend themselves so naturally to being a series, and then they’re crammed into a standalone. And sure, there are a lot of factors that go into book writing and publishing. There are any number of reasons that Sara Rees Brennan’s ‘Tell the Wind and Fire’ was a standalone and not a series. But it doesn’t change how I feel. And I feel like I needed more.
This book really had “something”. That same “something” that keeps you reading even when the story is a little flat, or when you want to throw something at one of the characters. It keeps you reading, right to the very end because you can see the potential and you want it to work. However, if it isn’t a series then the potential you saw in it was kinda for nothing. If that makes sense?
So, what worked for me?
The Setting – there were glimmers of a traditional SF/Futuristic-fantasy setting trope (in a good way) and I liked this because it was familiar and yet different. That whole city limits, over the wall, class divide, light vs dark. So much can be said through the setting alone and I thought the author used it to great advantage.
Lucie – I liked her as the main character. She had a cool back story and I was eager to learn more about her.
Tone – The overall tone and feel of this book is my kind of schtick. I like that urban fantasy setting and this had a dark-around-the-edges vibe to everything that was so “me”.
If it were me, what would I have done differently?
Lore/history – Ah, me. There were some elements to the story that weren’t explained with enough detail for me to really believe in them. Like the “magic”. One day it was there, and then poof! It was and that is that. I get this story is set long after the dawn of the magicks, but it felt like there was no surprise or issues related with its occurance. Like, I’m sure our world would probably have some kind of meltdown if humans could suddenly use dark and light magic.
Lucie’s aunt – Annoyed me as a character. She turned into something that felt at complete odds with her original character and motives. And became an antagonist type far too easily. This meant that, I felt, she became flat all of a sudden. I would have made her actions towards Lucie slightly more complex and conflicted.
Plot – Hoo boy. It’s a little all over the place for me. And the ending left me feeling frustrated rather than satisfied. Sure, you could argue that this futility is kind of the point, if you want to reach for larger themes and morals. People die for stupid reasons and even stupider causes, and for no good reason. However! When you’re taken on a journey with a character, sending them to their death has to be done with great care. (I’m not saying WHO dies, but someone does. Spoiler. But it’s kinda obvious anyhow).
The beginning – Confused me. It felt like I’d wandered into the wrong book. I couldn’t place the ages of the characters and it took a long while for me to get a real handle on the situation and on the world. I DID like the way the relationship Lucie had was portrayed thought. That was nice.
I JUST WANTED THIS TO BE A SERIES, OK?
This book needed more pages. Then I think many of the things that narked me would have easily have been forgotten, or ironed out. It’s an ok read, and I wouldn’t tell someone NOT to read it. If you like futuristic, urban fantasy type stories then definitely give this a go. If you’re a fan of the doppelganger trope, then yup, this is probably for you. If you like things like ‘The Island’ and enjoyed ‘Black City’ by Elizabeth Richards, then yep. You guessed it. Give this book a go.
A slightly frustrated 3/5.
(Released April 2016 – received with thanks from NetGalley – opinions are all my own, this is a no faking zone)