After seeing a few mediocre reviews and some glowing ones, I decided to give it a go. I thought that, at most, I’d give it three stars. However, I wound up really liking it (and will bump it up to four stars on Goodreads) and I absolutely devoured it.
The plot was absolutely golden. A world where there’s a king who has reigned for hundreds of years, killed and brought back to life every few years by necromancers. If you see the Dead without their shroud, they turn into creatures, called Shades that will kill and eat people. Suddenly, there’s a spike in the amount of Shades and it’s a question of why and who.
It was so much fun and entertaining. I wanted to find out what would happen, even though I figured out the twist early and the ending wrapped up too neatly. It didn’t shock me like I wanted it to, but I still thought it was fun.
The characters were fun. A lot of the time, the MC, Odessa, got on my nerves, but then I could double back and remind myself that I could understand it. The side characters were just as fun, too. Evander was sweet. I loved Simeon, Danial, Jax, and Valoria. Meredy was a joy to read about since I really resonated with how she handles herself.
And the LGBTQ rep was great. In this world, there’s no discrimination based on sexual orientation (can’t say about gender identity, tbh). Odessa is bisexual. There’s a lesbian love interest for her. A gay couple is in there as well. It was fun and I really enjoyed it.
Yet, they were still just okay. I found them fun, yet it felt like they could use more building. They didn’t exactly jump off of the page for me and nestle in my heart like some. It just fell flat in the end, meaning I couldn’t get as attached as I wanted to. The villain was too much of a cliche. The side characters could have used more development. And I felt like Odessa changed too quickly, without there being much on the page to cover it.
Next, I liked that there was romance and that it didn’t consume the page. There was a definite plot that didn’t fall to the wayside. I really liked that since some authors get too caught up in a romance and forget the plot.
Yet, it still felt random and undeveloped because of that focus on the plot. There was a love triangle in this. And I don’t think it worked. Especially with how it felt thrown together without much development about why it was happening. For how long the book was, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on relationship development. It opens with Odessa being in a relationship with Evander and I never got attached to it, then there was added romance when the book could have done without it.
As I said, I found the plot fun and interesting. Yet, like I’ve hinted at with character development and relationship development, there was a problem with pacing. The book was nearly four hundred pages. While it went fast, it spent way too much time on Odessa’s inner development. It didn’t make me feel like the romances were believable or her ability to suddenly work through something that held her back for, about, a hundred pages would have happened like that.
So, like many three star books, its strengths are also its weaknesses. Since I really did enjoy this, hence my 3.5 rating, I’m going to read book two. And I’m actually looking forward to it.