My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: May 14th, 2019
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
After finishing a fast-paced, action-packed YA Fantasy book (Wicked Saints), it was hard getting into a slow-paced, thought-driven story. I was going to say ‘‘character-driven’’ because there’s a lot of saying hello and goodbye to different people, but the protagonists are not particularly three-dimensional and it’s a very descriptive novel.
I don’t mind description as a general rule because it helps set the scene and helps us understand why certain characters are behaving in unexpected ways. I don’t, however, think the reader needs to know why the main characters are doing or saying EVERY SINGLE THING. And yet this is what we have here, which means that we basically never need to think… the author does it for us all the time.
It is beautifully-written. That is hard to dispute, unless you prefer your reads to contain no figures of speech or any kind of lush vocabulary. It’s also elegantly-told. It may contain very little action, the people in it thinking, talking and hypostasizing more than acting in the world and being one with the phenomena, but Hafsah Faizal sure has a way with words.
I also think it’s a lovely story. It’s dark at times, which I liked, but it feels timeless, like this could be a story told in a hundred years and future robots could still enjoy the way it unfolds and the twists presented. Trust me, if I didn’t like the world or idea of restoring magic, I would not have cared to finish close to 500 pages in less than 3 days. Or at all.
But now, unfortunately, we have to talk about the one-dimensional characters. It’s not that they don’t have a personality per se, seeing that they talk and behave differently, but if you asked me to create a profile for them on a dating app, I wouldn’t be able to come up with much of anything exciting. But sure, let’s try it.
– Good-ish with a bow (or was that Nasir?)
– Likes to flee (sorry, dude)
– Has trust issues
– Will most likely friend-zone you
– Might kill you if she suspects you of cheating
– Is still not over his not-quite-ex
– Won’t share anything about himself
– Will stare at you wordlessly
– Doesn’t know what he wants
Would you really go for that? And even though Zafira looks pretty badass, like I said, she flees A LOT. She’s supposed to be this kickass powerful huntress no one can catch but ends up needing help A LOT. Nasir is just… meh. Apparently he’s handsome but he won’t even have a one night stand with you and he’s so not ready to be anyone’s boyfriend so, again, meh.
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