June 15th, 2022
I really struggled to determine how I felt about this book. I originally gave it four stars just because I couldn’t really think of anything I didn’t like about it, but then I found finding what I did like about it just as hard. I gave it a little time, and I think I understand what about this book made me have such neutral feelings.
| Published: July 2022, Knopf |
| Genre: Fantasy |
| Age: Adult |
| Themes: Magic, Curses, Fairytale Retelling |
| Length: 464 Pages |
| Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs
The story is inspired by another story and you can feel that in the writing. There’s a whimsical, fairy tale like nature to the structure that really is beautiful to read. It’s also simply told, not too embellished or overwritten, which makes it for a nice casual read.
“Food feeds the belly, thought feeds the mind, but love it what feeds the heart.”
Shiori was a character I loved one minute, and found infuriating the next. I think it’s partly down to the pacing and the nature of the plot, but I just found her so inactive. Her job is to save her brothers and I felt like she was just standing still for so much of the book.
“Pain doesn’t get easier. You just get stronger.”
But I didn’t find her a weak character, I just think the author focused too much on the romance and not enough on the curse Shiori and her brothers were under. I had no idea going into this it would have romance, and I did like it, I thought the love interest was sweet (and maybe a little boring). I did also find it a bit tropey, but I actually don’t mind that in YA fantasy.
And this is a good YA fantasy. Like I said earlier, it’s easy to read, it’s fun, and it has some good entertaining twists. But the whole time I was looking for more depth. I wanted more world building, I wanted the magic in this world to be explored more. Instead, I felt like not a lot was explained and the whole book lacked description. That might be something you like in fantasy, but I’m a LotR kind of girl myself.
By the end of the book, I was left feeling this whole thing could have been avoided if the characters just talked to each other! And I’m sure, if you’ve been there before yourself, you know how frustrating that is. But I did have fun reading this anyway, and I have the sequel approved on NetGalley that I may as well give a try.
Thanks For Reading,