Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: 1st January 2014
Source: Owned paperback
This whole book is very light on the fantasy and focuses mainly on the romance situated within the political power-plays of a world after war. In fact, the only thing that makes it a fantasy is the fact it's a whole new world. For the first 100 pages I was seriously considering putting this down as there was zero action and a whole lot of polite conversations and talks of dresses. Once the story started to be driven forward, I did get more interested, but not enough to make me fully invested in what was going on. Nothing really shocked me and I found it to be quite predictable, however, the ending did have me intrigued for the next book.
I did really like the master-slave relationship depicted in this book - it was really interesting to see how Kestrel understood this was how things now played out in her world, but also see her discomfort with it and her inner battles with what to do about it. I also enjoyed seeing the situation from Arin's perspective, and these sections were probably my favourite parts of the book. On the other hand, I didn't feel like we were ever taken too deeply into the characters' minds or personalities. I really wanted to feel like I fully knew Kestrel and Arin, especially because the book felt so void of action for a lot of it, but this never really came. Maybe we'll learn more in the subsequent books, but for me, I want the first book in a series to really draw me in and make me fall in love with characters and care about what happens to them - not have to wait for further books in the series to fulfill this. As I said before, the ending does make me want to learn what this means for Kestrel and Arin, but at the same time, I don't overly care. I also didn't particularly have much feeling for the romance, but this may be a slow-burner with me. There was no insta-love with I did appreciate, but nothing felt new or exciting between Kestrel and Arin and as the romance was one of the main points of the book, this was frustrating.
I did love Rutkoski's writing in this - she definitely has a talent for winding you through the plot with beautiful prose and brilliant descriptions. Her writing was definitely what kept me going during the first 100 pages but it wasn't enough to make up for what I felt was lacking with the rest of the story.
Overall, I was quite disappointed with this. I was expecting to fall in love with the story, as everyone else seems to have, but it just fell a bit flat for me. However, I will probably read the second installment as I am interested to see where the story is heading.