“Life is like the oil within a lamp. It can be measured, but the pace at which it burns depends on how the dial is turned day by day, how bright and fierce the flame. And there is no predicting whether the lamp might be knocked to the ground and shatter, when it could have blazed on a great while longer. Such is the unpredictability of life.”
Well if this wasn’t the most BORING dang thing I’ve ever read! Holy crap. It was such a chore to get through. I could not have cared less about the plot, the characters, the world – literally anything in this book. I was tempted to give this 1.5 stars, I swear to god haha. It was really bad 😅.
Ok, so I’m actually really mad about this one. I knew – KNEW – I wasn’t going to enjoy it, but the damn hype got me anyway 🤦♀️. I am just glad I didn’t purchase it myself, or waste a Christmas gift on it or something.
There are maybe two good things I can say about this book: the writing wasn’t the worst thing I have ever read and the beginning was intriguing. Nothing else, no not even the fact that it’s “dedicated to book lovers” (🤮) or Silas, were redeeming factors for me. Both of those things, much like everything else in the book, seemed like cheap ploys to appeal to readers. Cliche. Boring. Unoriginal. Kitschy. Childish. Waste of time.
I can say without a doubt now that I am NOT a fan of this author. I read her debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens, and it was basically a very poorly-done ACOTAR rip off. Underdeveloped, tropey, boring, cringey. I said I wasn’t going to read anything else by her, because that reading experience sucked. When Sorcery of Thorns came out, I still said, “Nah, I have no interest in reading that.” But then everyone positively loooooooved it. Omg it’s soooooo good, 5 stars all around!! And I was like ok maybe I should give Rogerson another shot. An Enchantment of Ravens was her debut novel; I’m sure she has developed as an author since. So, I took a chance and requested this one from my library.
Guess what? She hasn’t developed anything. The only difference between this book and her first one, was that she added a couple hundred pages of NOTHING HAPPENING to make it longer. Her characters were still lesser copies of other literary figures (Nathaniel is like a bargain-bin Dragon from Uprooted, just like Rook was a poor-man’s Rhys). The plot was hardly developed at all. The villains were purely one-dimensional and had no motives. Her writing was all over the place. The pacing was off, the metaphors made zero sense, the dialogue was wooden, juvenile, and very cringey. Her worldbuilding was nonexistent. So this is a regency time period (1824 to be exact) in a fantasy world where they have champagne and reference medieval cannons?? And there is a Royal Library, but no royalty? Nothing made sense. And any time we did get information about the world, it was info-dumped all over us because Elisabeth was so naive and sheltered about everything. Very annoying.
Ahem. Speaking of Elisabeth. She was such an empty-headed, no-personality-having dingus that I could not stand reading from her point of view. What a terrible choice for a protagonist!! Good lord. She never even did anything! She just happened to overhear every important conversation around the city or get fed information enough for her to jump to a crazy conclusion. She was so passive. She had no actual motivations or original thoughts or anything at all to make her a decent character. She was a total Mary Sue. Oh suddenly she can fight and wield a sword better than a seasoned sorcerer! And guess what, she’s magic too, cause she grew up in a library!! She’s speshullllll. Literally her only character trait was being tall. I kid you not, nothing else was remotely memorable about her. But can’t forget that she’s tall, because it was said no less than 30 times throughout the book! 🙄
The other characters were no better. Nathaniel was the cliche, dark brooding boy with a tragic past who’s “snarky and mean and guarded.” His lines were so bad. So “fake witty” and “totally unfased in the face of danger, because he’s kool.” I couldn’t take either of them seriously when they were bantering or declaring their love for each other. Which, by the way, had zero development, made no sense, came out of nowhere, and was all around really stupid. And of course, once they get together, he loses any ounce of sass and becomes a soppy noodle. He just needed to find love with a tall girl…I guess.
Silas is the one that everyone loves. He’s a demon butler and there was absolutely nothing at all special about him. His dialogue was equally as terrible, his character was one-sided, just like everyone else. I do not get why everyone thinks he’s so sassy and funny and great. Cause he ain’t. He brought nothing to the table, because you just knew there was no danger in him being actually evil or letting the two dumbasses die. Of course he’ll choose love over being a literal fucking demon. Of course he’ll be their deus ex machina time and time again.
Overall, this book read like a string of scenes thrown together in the hopes that it created a full story. Rogerson followed that ole “YA Fantasy formula,” so of course she has a bestseller on her hands. Could there have been any less of an effort made here? Nothing felt connected or relevant. There was no substance whatsoever; everything was so surface level. This happened, then this happened, then this happened – just telling us a bunch of bland events. Telling, not showing us anything. There was no thought behind it. Nothing had any genuine depth and it made me not care at all. I had to force myself to finish the last half of the book.
Some stray thoughts, if you will:
- Everything was WAY too conveniently wrapped up in the end. In fact, the entire plot was convenient. Elisabeth just happened to overhear everything. She just happened to fall asleep or faint when the scene needed to change. She just happened to know how to do everything. She just happened to be impervious to spells. She just happened to be able to jump into the grimoire.
- The whole concept rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed like the author just took pieces and parts of other books and said, “That’ll work!” Nothing felt original or actually created by her.
- Elisabeth’s inner monologue was SO obvious and telly. It was like the highlighted items floating behind Dora the Explorer. Oh I wonder what that could mean!?!
- I love to read. LOVE to read. I adore books. And I hated this. I didn’t care for the grimoires and I thought the whole thing was pretty gimmicky toward readers.
- Her characters, while being generally cliche, were so similar to her other book’s characters. Can she only write one type?
- Nathaniel’s oh-so-calm attitude was beyond irritating. And if he called Elisabeth “menace” one more time, I was going to flip my shit. It was SO FORCED. Trying wayyyyy too hard. Not natural. Terrible!
- There was no chemistry between anyone. I felt nothing when they interacted, nothing when they “died,” nothing when they kissed. No time was taken for them to actually get to know each other or form believable relationships.
- Homegirl really just slid down the banister in a dress, sword waving, to fight a giant book monster????? 😂😂🤣😂
- At one point, my notes just say, “Punchable writing.” 🤷♀️
- I kept thinking it’d be over and then ah fuck me another long, drawn out scene before the end.
- Oh gee, let’s just throw in an ace character and a bi character for brownie points with the PC crowd, but not actually explore their sexuality or make it mean anything at all!!!!
Ok and finally, don’t hate me for this (although I’m sure you already do by the end of this review 😅), but I DO NOT like this cover. I loved Charlie Bowater’s fan art, when she first started making it for ACOTAR and Throne of Glass, and don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for her that she is making money and a name for herself now. You go girl! But at the same time, the book covers I have seen by her all look the same. Her female subjects all look the same. It makes me feel like the books they are on are. All. The. Same. I have just been really turned off by it recently (hence why I am spending more money and going out of my way to get the UK edition of Skyward).
End rant review! Sorry it got a little heated. Honestly, what did y’all think of this book? Like I am flabbergasted at the hype surrounding it. I just don’t get it!
Thanks, everyone, for reading!