My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: February 25th, 2020
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Royalty, Assassination, Plotting, Secrets, Feminism, Friendship
Last semester, I took a theatre class. There was one specific scene that was very important in the play and it had to be done perfectly. When practicing, the actors started the scene with a lot of energy and really brought to life the characters and intensity of the story. But somehow, as the scene went on, the actors’ energy started fading slowly and the scene ended with a lacklustre atmosphere.
I still remember the professor saying, ‘‘No, you can’t do that. You either have to keep the energy throughout the scene or you have to start with a lot of energy and increase it as the scene progresses. Otherwise, no one is going to pay attention anymore by the end.’’
This book reminded me of that scene. Alessandra is an intriguing character. She decides to conquer the Shadow King’s heart—something no woman has ever managed to do before—and then kill him. The beginning of the story is very exciting and mysterious and makes you feel like something huge is going to happen.
But when Alessandra makes it to court—which doesn’t take long at all—the energy starts fading. Before, she was this unique female with intensity and the will to achieve all of her goals, whatever it takes. But, at court, she became so… banal. She—and the story—started to slow down. It wasn’t so much about her trying to accomplish her goals anymore as it was about her trying to fit in.
I struggled to finish it. Truly, this is a story that should have taken me a maximum of two days to read. It’s short, the beginning is so exciting and the writing is very elegant. Instead, it took me over three weeks. I did find myself arching an eyebrow towards the end of the story—thanks to some surprising revelations—but having read the author’s debut work, I know Tricia Levenseller could have done better.
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