Morning mortals! I have to share a book review for a book that could have been wonderful but just…wasn’t. I’m a little disappointed and kind of cross so please excuse any blithering in this review but a lot of my pet peeves were brought to the forefront in this book. Without further ado…
In a feudal land, a Kingdom is at risk. With no heir to the fragile throne, its future rests with the powerful members of the dying king’s Council, including Minori, a nightblade warrior, and Kiyoshi, a dayblade healer. The two men are bound by the sword but divided by two opposing principles: rule the land, or serve it. In their challenge for supremacy, a spark has been lit.
Her name is Asa. Her creed is revenge.
A fierce nightblade warrior, she’s spent a decade in pursuit of the enigmatic general who killed her father in a violent revolt—then mysteriously vanished from all records. Now, her desire for reckoning has led her to the village of Two Falls—and straight into the heart of an impending civil war. Minori and Kiyoshi are vying for her loyalty. And Asa must choose sides.
As fresh betrayals unfold and a new uprising looms, Asa knows that chasing a ghost is no longer just a personal quest for retribution. It’s going to alter the fate of the entire Kingdom.
So let’s start with my biggest annoyance. On paper this book is everything I would want from a book and the writing let it down so thoroughly and now I don’t get to read an amazing book with this concept because this book exists. All of the elements are there, the intriguing idea of magic the sense and the badass female character with a quest for revenge, the high stakes and the wider picture of political disaster looming. But the writing is so dry and so dull that all these elements fall flat.
I initially found it difficult to put my finger on what was annoying me about the writing, but on reflection I think I have it. This book definitely tells rather than shows. Does that make any sense? Let me elucidate. Where many great books will describe a character’s facial expression and then you as the reader can draw your own conclusion. This book explains to you exactly what the character is feeling. This not only makes every interaction take twice as long as it needs to but it also means you can’t form your own image of the characters which is part of how I connect to characters and is one of the reasons I adore books as a media. If you can’t have your own personal interpretation of a character and it is instead spoonfed to you, it gets a little boring quite quickly.
The other thing that ‘got my goat’ was the fact that the plot reveal was almost as predictable as the one in Blackbird. True I have a tendency to guess the ends of things before they happen, tv shows, books etc. But this felt (again) like it was just given to the reader. Not only is that irritating because it’s always fun to be surprised by plot elements, but it also completely alienated me from Asa (the female lead) because I couldn’t fathom how she didn’t see it coming from a mile away.
What I think this book was missing was the addition of a good old-fashioned red herring. This is one of the narrative techniques used by the best of the best and for some reason it seems to have fallen out of fashion. Give the reader some credit and make it hard for them to work out where your plot is going.
I have to give Ryan Kirk a little credit, there are some great ideas within this story and some resonant moments within the plot. It’s for that reason I’ve given this book the ‘it was ok’ rating, but I was still disappointed by the execution.
My rating: 2/5 stars
By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Are you equally fed up or is this on your ‘must read’ list? Let me know in the comments below.