I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up because the setting intrigued me and I honestly wasn't expecting much going into it, but surprisingly, I fo...moreI really enjoyed this book. I picked it up because the setting intrigued me and I honestly wasn't expecting much going into it, but surprisingly, I found myself really getting into the story. The main character was wonderfully written, and she never annoyed me. She walked that perfect balance between being stubborn/headstrong and unrealistically pushy. She didn't say everything that came into her mind, she made mistakes, she suffered consequences for her actions, and she grew and changed. I would honestly like to read more about her.
There IS a love triangle and I normally despise love triangles, but this is one of the very, very few that is actually presented realistically, and even resolved realistically. The characters respond to the romantic subplots in a way that real people would, and the love triangle never took me out of the story. So the author gets a pass on that haha :)
The plot itself was a little weak. For me, it was fairly easy to determine who was behind the mystery because- honestly- there was only one person it COULD have been. Maybe if the author had introduced a few more characters there would have been more of a question, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment too much. The characters all had realistic motivations and you could understand why they did what they did. I wish there was more information about the main character's mother, but that's just me.
The historical setting was well-handled, and I thought everyone acted pretty true to form. I have been to the region the book takes place in (not the specific town, although now I'd like to go and see the actual cages) and the author describes it very well. Overall, a surprising book I didn't really expect to like as much as I did.(less)
So this book left me conflicted. Which isn't bad! But still, I don't quite know how I feel about it. It's definitely more than two stars, but I'd give...moreSo this book left me conflicted. Which isn't bad! But still, I don't quite know how I feel about it. It's definitely more than two stars, but I'd give this like...a weak three stars. I hate rating systems ugh.
On the plus side, I really liked the setting. I'm not necessarily a big western fan but I appreciated reading something different. The writing was pretty strong, and I thought the characters were very distinct. They each had their own voice and I felt that their motivations were well-described. My personal feelings about the main character were, for the most part, positive. I felt that she behaved accurately for her time and place and situation, but there were moments when something she said or did pulled me out of the narrative and made me think "...really??" But that could just be me.
The story was good. The magic system was very interesting but not as well developed as I would have liked, but of course that's probably just because it's the first book in a series. More keenly, I felt that the whole world of the novel wasn't quite as developed as I'd like it to be. I'm a graduate student studying History, so I love historical detail. I don't necessarily care if it's accurate (I wouldn't read historical fiction if I wanted accuracy, haha) but I do like there to be detailed world-building.
One thing I really appreciated was the characters' diversity. The author included Native Americans, Chinese, and Hispanic characters, which is accurate to the West at the time this story is set. It was nice to see a book that wasn't totally whitewashed.
Overall, I really liked the ideas present in this story, and I'd love to see them detailed further. The author is obviously very creative and talented, so hopefully the next volume clears up some of the world-building deficiencies present in this book. I would definitely recommend this to people who like fantasy, historical fiction, and the West as a setting. (less)
Ok, so I liked the idea of this a lot better than the execution. I think this book could have been a whole lot longer, and...moreProbably more of a 2.5/2.75.
Ok, so I liked the idea of this a lot better than the execution. I think this book could have been a whole lot longer, and it could have been much more detailed. I feel like too much time was spent building up a romance that seemed rather tacked-on, and of course there was a love triangle (although I will say a comment made by one of the characters regarding said love triangle made me laugh out loud). The love interests were both not-very-well developed, and the one was way too aggro and frankly, kind of scary at times. I understand why but I feel like it might have been portrayed in a more negative light, to underscore that the way he acted toward the main character at time was not acceptable. The other love interest I liked better, but he needed more development. Overall, there just wasn't enough and the author introduced so many interesting concepts and ideas that I would have loved more. I understand this is part of a series, but still, there was plenty of room for more details in this volume (which also fell victim to the infodump curse).
I will probably read the next installment of this series because the concept was very original. It's not a style I generally enjoy (I don't like first-person narratives but that's my own bias and I realize a lot of books in this genre are first-person) but I did appreciate the main character for the most part and I think she was strong and funny and smart. I wish there had been more women in the story, though. Hopefully in future books more female characters will be included.