(I've made every attempt to use spoiler tags throughout this review, but it is 3 in the morning and I've worked five 12-hour days in a row and unlike(I've made every attempt to use spoiler tags throughout this review, but it is 3 in the morning and I've worked five 12-hour days in a row and unlike our protagonist, (view spoiler)[I am not perfect at everything I attempt (hide spoiler)]. I tend to spoiler tag the most basic details that are left off of the book description, so that they retain their poignancy when they show up in the book, but if I've missed anything, I apologize.)
I read this book on the recommendations of two friends (Bailey and Sonja) whose tastes are impeccable and by whom I don't think I've ever been misled. Their reputations remain intact.
I'm going to spend a lot of time (like, way more than I normally spend on three reviews combined, much less on just part of one) pissing and moaning at the end of this review about the one thing that made me want to scratch my eyes out about this book, but I really did enjoy it, honest.
Holmberg's worldbuilding was charming and immersive. The concept was very original and so well-executed that putting it down became a real challenge. Finishing it was a bittersweetness that was eased only by the knowledge that another installment would immediately follow. I liked that magicians had to specialize in their medium and that there seemed to be rules about how magic functioned in this universe.* There was whimsy and emotion, and an impossibly cute (view spoiler)[paper dog (hide spoiler)] whom I would like to adopt immediately.
Here begins the ranting portion:
I think this would have been a five-star book for me, if not for the weird, her-whole-life-comes-back-to-him, Clara Oswin Oswald-esqueness of it all. At first, it wasn't a big deal. (view spoiler)[She was randomly assigned to this particular specialty, this particular magician (hide spoiler)]. Fine. That's how stories begin. She cooked for him because she liked cooking, right? That's fair. I do too. But then she went flinging herself into a hopelessly dangerous situation that was way over her head because reasons.** And then the girl trudges through (view spoiler)[the dude's literal actual heart, while trying not to be killed by this guy's ex-wife*** (hide spoiler)] for reasons I can't really pin down.**** It was a compelling and original little twist, but it felt like the author had come up with the idea at some earlier point and then just kind of forced it into this story, which creates this weird, one-sided (view spoiler)[falling in love (hide spoiler)] that, what, Mg. Thane finds out about after the fact? I don't even know. We find out that he (view spoiler)[anonymously paid for her tuition at the magical academy she has now graduated from and could never have attended without his help (hide spoiler)], because of course he did.
And then, via some straight-up deus ex machina tap-dancing, (view spoiler)[our incredibly gifted heroine pulls some next-level shit***** straight out of her ass and saves the day, despite barely being far enough in her apprenticeship to know her head from a hole in the wall (hide spoiler)].
Oh, and now it's his destiny that they're going to (view spoiler)[be together forever. Plus babies! With an 11 year age gap and she's still a teenager (hide spoiler)]!
I must have gotten all salty and jaded in my old age. This was basically my reaction:
I liked it, though. I swear. I really did. 3.5 stars.
* From reading the synopses of the second and third installments in this series, I gather that this gets thrown out the window in a puff of Beyond the Impossible smoke, because Super Protagonist. ** Because feelings? Beginnings of feelings? I don't even know. Girl, you have been in your apprenticeship for like five minutes and you are rushing off into what you believe at the time is almost certain failure/death. The fuck? *** Why did Lira want to (view spoiler)[kill him? Why did she want to kill Ceony? Why did she want Thane's heart (hide spoiler)]? None of this is ever really explored at all. You're gonna address some stuff in the next books? Fine. But I feel like leaving things completely un-addressed is an oversight. Give me something to go on! **** I mean, I know why it happened in the book (to facilitate (view spoiler)[the character development of / falling in love with Mg. Thane, while he is still unconscious and near death (hide spoiler)], I just don't know why the author chose to present it that way. ***** Like, her brilliant and (view spoiler)[now-saved mentor/bae (hide spoiler)] doesn't even understand how she did The Thing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Dark and intricate, masterfully done, and spectacularly fucked up. Keyhouse is full of plenty more twists and shadows, I'm sure. You don't need that mDark and intricate, masterfully done, and spectacularly fucked up. Keyhouse is full of plenty more twists and shadows, I'm sure. You don't need that many keys if you don't have shit to hide....more