Spoilers? Maybe yes, maybe no. I don’t give specifics, but I do talk vaguely about events, and I do mention that there’s a character death. If you’re sensitive about spoilers, I would avoid this.
Remember when I said in my kind of review of The Poison Eaters that I had no plan to read any other books by Holly Black because I didn’t want to risk ruining them? Yeah. And yet, here I am.
To be honest, I was never really into this series. I think these were the first Holly Black books I bought, so, if I hadn’t been interested in them, I never would have picked up The Poison Eaters or White Cat. I probably read the entire first book at some point, but, before rereading it, I didn’t remember the second half of it at all. I know that I got about halfway through it several times, but, for whatever reason, I would put it down, and I was never motivated to pick up the next book of the series.
I’m actually pleasantly surprised. This was much better than The Poison Eaters. There was more world building in this than I expected there to be. I didn’t have very high hopes for the world building, so I went into this not expecting that much, but it had an atmosphere that fit very well with the story. The descriptions of things were kind of reminiscent of a thirteen year old’s tumblr, but I can see what I saw in it when I was thirteen and had some kind of weird almost fascination with tumblr. Although this wasn’t the dark, beautiful, grungy aesthetic I thought I remembered from The Poison Eaters, it still had a nice feel and I did enjoy the world building.
Some parts of rereading this were weird. I didn’t realize that some lines had stuck with me more than others. I would be reading and get to a line that made me stop. There would just be something about that line that triggered my memory. Then I would remember that when I read it the first time I stopped at that line, and, for whatever reason, thought about it more than the other lines. There was some line about Kaye’s dolls and their tea party being interrupted. Apparently, something about that line caught my eye the first time I read the book because I actually have it liked on goodreads. It’s not like I’ve thought about that line since I read this book last time. It’s not like I’ve been searching for it to find what it was from, but it was kind of weird to come across it when I wasn’t expecting it. Also, like with The Poison Eaters, it was weird to read these lines when they mean nothing to me now. I don’t remember exactly what they meant to me back then-most of the lines were pretty random, or just particularly aesthetic, but I wouldn’t have remembered them in particular years later if they hadn’t meant a lot to me the first time through. I wish I remember what I thought then and why the lines were important.
I didn’t connect to or relate to any of the characters I did the first time reading this, but I did relate to the character I didn’t like last time, so that’s weird. I’m not going to say which character I related to, but I know exactly why I related to them, and I guess I have a newfound appreciation of them. These characters were not poorly written, but I’ve read a lot of books that had better, more developed characters, and the characters from this book would pale in comparison to any character by Brenna Yovanoff.
The ending seemed a bit too easy, in my opinion. I expected it to be harder, or at least more tragic. There was one character death that I didn’t expect, but I expected there to be so much more. I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil anything, and I don’t consider just saying that there’s a character death is necessarily a spoiler. (There are actually four deaths of characters who have names, and several deaths of unnamed characters, I think, but if I don’t tell you who it is, are they really spoilers? Some people would probably say yes. I say no.) Anyway, in the end of the book, one of the characters gets a plan to fix everything, and then it somehow works out perfectly and everything’s okay. That is so not realistic. I know that stuff did go wrong before that point, and that some people did die, but, like I said, I expected it to be more tragic with a lot of death.
Everything said that this was going to a very dark faerie story, and this just wasn’t that dark. Sure, some bits were a little gory, but that alone does not make it dark. You have to do more than have a fairy stab another fairy in the eye to make a book dark. Yes, it was senseless violence, and senseless violence is horrible, but to make something dark it has to be more than that. If one fairy was stabbing another fairy for some other dark purpose, it could be considered dark. But this was just stabbing for the sake of stabbing. Gross and violent, yes. Dark and sinister, not so much. The intention just isn’t there.
I liked this book, and I will read the rest of the series, but, just like being emo, fangirling over Holly Black’s books was a phase-not who I am. Three stars.