This was a weird one for me. It had all the major things going for it that I usually enjoy in fantasy, but ultimately, it fell short.
I went back and forth between really liking this book and not being totally enthralled. It took a while for me to get into the characters and the pace of the plot, but once the threads started to intertwine, the story became much, much stronger, and the characters began to come into focus. Suri in particular is a fantastic character, and I loved following her as the narration followed her through both the eyes of other characters, and over her shoulder as she traversed the dahl and prepared herself to confront Grin the Brown. I do have to say, though, that there is a twist involving Suri that I didn’t much care for.
What was that twist? Well…
Spoiler: Suri is Maeve’s daughter, who is supposed to be a very old woman. She has completely white hair and severe wrinkles so I picture someone who is, at the very, VERY least, 65 years old. Which would mean she was 49 when she gave birth to Suri. Definitely possible, but not ideal for a) getting pregnant in the first place, and b) carrying the pregnancy to term in a primitive fantasy society. My mind also goes closer to the early 70s for white hair, though. Which is even more of a stretch for a healthy childbirth in a primitive society with no modern medicine and technology. So I didn’t really buy it. Maybe Maeve is meant to be younger but really, younger than 65 would be pushing the old age descriptors to the brink. I could be totally biased on it, but I did have a lot of trouble reconciling this, and for me, it was an odd, jarring twist rather than an intriguing one.
Outside of that, it just felt like it took a while for things to get going. Once Raithe and Persephone meet, things definitely start picking up as the plot comes into focus, tensions rise between characters, and seemingly disconnected events start intertwining. It’s a good read from that point on, but due to my issue with that Suri-centered twist, the ending didn’t leave me satisfied. I will say, however, that there was one final twist that came within the last few pages. That one was EXTREMELY interesting, and redeemed what was otherwise a fairly bland ending.
Overall, it’s a decently solid book, and the author does note that he writes the entire series before publishing the first book, so there’s no risk of an unfinished series if you’re looking for a new fantasy world to sink your teeth into. But speaking personally, I don’t know if I’ll continue with this series or not.