Please be aware that this review contains some spoilers. Do not continue reading unless you are fine with being spoiled.
I really wanted to like this book. Both the Australian and US covers are gorgeous, the premise sounds really great, and the first few chapters had me hooked. But then everything went pear-shaped.
All of a sudden this really strong and interesting character completely lost her train of thought because of some hot dude. There was a fascinating element of Stockholm Syndrome in this book, because El had been kidnapped at a young age and grew up to see her kidnapper as a father figure. She had grown to absolutely despise her birth family. Then she was reunited with her family and that just … went away?
There were a few mentions of El spending time with her mother and father, but that was seriously it. No in-depth discussion of how difficult it was, or how she couldn’t be totally comfortable around them. Sure, she talked about how difficult it would be, and sometimes she said she didn’t trust her father, but you never saw them getting to know each other again.
And despite the fact that El seemed totally untrustworthy and kept doing incredibly stupid shit (like walking in and saying, ‘Oh yeah, here I am’ when someone had just said, ‘El’s definitely not here. I have no idea where she is. No way am I harbouring a fugitive’), everyone seemed willing to give her a massive amount of political power and not really supervise her at all.
To me, that’s where the story was—all of those interesting character dynamics that were set up and never came to fruition. But instead, everything got put on the back-burner in favour of Hottie McHotFace.
Even the magic system, which played a vital part in the story, wasn’t properly explained. It was like all the important details were skirted around to maintain an element of mystery that only served to weigh the book down.
It’s gutting when a book shows so much promise and doesn’t deliver. As much as I’d like to say that I will continue reading the series and hope it gets better, I can’t justify feeling that frustrated and dissatisfied again.