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I tucked this book away on my TBR what seems like forever ago and I wasted so. much. time! Thank goodness(?) for that migraine*, else I may have never prioritized it, and would have totally missed out on a new favorite.
*Not really. Migraines are the literal worst and I would not wish them on anyone. They are debilitating and awful and if you get them I am with you and we should get help, ASAP. There are no upsides to migraines, no matter how hard I try to tell myself otherwise.
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book. You guys. I loved everything about it. I loved the characters, the world(s), the magic(s), the freaking plot! There’s a rivalmance! (For non-fanfic folks, that means rivals become romantic interests over the course of the story).
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Steven Crossley, while I was down and out with a really bad migraine. This book made me laugh and smile when I was otherwise trying not to cry or even worse, puke. This book made a really painful couple of days manageable, or at the very least helped me get through them.
What I loved:
- Every single character. There’s Kell, a powerful and rare type of magician called the Antari, who is far more dashing than he realizes and I am madly in love with him. Lila, a starving cut-purse who steals from Kell, and inadvertently stumbles into a really dangerous adventure with him. I love Rhy, the suave Prince and Kell’s brother by all but blood. I even liked Holland, the Antari from an alternate tyrannical London, who spends much of his time as the book’s bad guy, even if it’s against his will. His king and queen, the twins Astrid and Athos, are absolutely terrifying and I LOVED it. They were creepy in all the best ways and presented a very real and original threat.
- The worlds. The book takes place across three different Londons. Grey London, where Lila is from, where magic has dwindled away to almost nothing; AKA our London, pre-industrial revolution. Then there’s Red London, Kell’s London, where magic is in balance with the world and almost everyone has some sort of talent. And then there’s White London, Holland’s London, where everything is cold and dying, where life is a constant power struggle and nothing comes easy. And of course, the fallen Black London, consumed by a magical plague 300 years ago, and not really in this book.
- The magic! There’s basic elemental magic that most folks have some ability with at least one. There’s Water, Fire, Air, Earth, Metal, and Bone. Some people can wield two or even three of the Elements, but anything more than that is exceedingly rare. Unless you’re an Antari. They can bend all the Elements to their will, AND use Blood Magic, which actually has verbal commands and requires the Antari activate the command with their blood. White London also has some tricky Runes and Seals, but those are illegal in Red London because they bind people against their will, etc.
So yeah, there’s a lot going on in this book and I enjoyed all of it. Like, literally every second. I already intend to read the books over again once I’m done with the series (and manage to find time to sneak in a reread), because I love them that much.
What I didn’t love:
- Um… the narration? It definitely wasn’t bad, but it was kind of stuffy. Kell sounded too bored, or too impersonal a lot of the time and his magic commands were super dramatic, to the point I couldn’t really understand what he was saying. I liked Crossley’s interpretations of Lila, however. The bad guys had either German or Eastern European accents which felt a little… cliched.
- That I couldn’t get the second book on the Libby app right away (the hold list is an estimated SIX MONTHS!) so I had to sign up for Audible, again.
- That I waited so long to try this series! What was I thinking! Why didn’t someone tell me!
Okay, seriously now, all frothing aside, this book obviously ticked every box for me. I have a theory as to why. It felt like fanfic and I mean that in the best possible way. It was FUN. It hit the beats of fanfic, where there’s banter and intrigue and while Schwab does it so skillfully you don’t even notice, she melds all these cutesy moments into the book and makes them matter. Things were predictable, but in a satisfying way. Characters said and did things I wanted them to, and when they did? It was better than I imagined.
Perfect. This book was perfect for me, and probably perfect for me at this point in my life. It was the exact book I needed and wanted. It’s been a long time since I had a new favorite series, and I forgot how intoxicating that feeling is. I am currently over the moon with feelings for this series. So, yeah, this is my fangirly, foaming at the mouth review. Whatever that’s worth to you.
Expect more of the same this month because my queued reading is insane! I’m already halfway through A Gathering of Shadows, I’ve started Trail of Lightning, and behind those is A Conjuring of Light and Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade. It’s going to be a book review heavy month here at the blog and it’s about damn time.
Barring any news submissions-wise, you won’t hear from me until Monday, when I’m back with the weekly update. Until then, Blogland.