*coughs* *straightens shirt* Where were we? Oh yes, reasons why I loved this little piece which you should make sure to read after book one and not before it:
➸ For one thing, well, obviously Hawke duh. This has me craving more Hawke POVs I’m just saying. His conviction that no vile act of his will surpass what his enemies have done, his odd sense of honour, and his adorably lacking ability in expressing his emotions makes reading events from his eyes way more enticing. He is definitely a selfish son of a gun and we just cannot (and yes here comes the dreaded double negative I can’t resist using) NOT stan.
You know what? Throw all that out the window. What really made this a worthy read was witnessing his initial reaction to Poppy overflow with immediate delighted surprise and disarming curiosity, and seeing sense creep into the senseless decision he made at the beginning of From Blood and Ash.
Whatever game this girl was about, I was done playing it without knowing what cards I’d been dealt. I tugged the hood back, exposing her face— Holy shit.
➸ I personally love it when a character we’d only read from one perspective is seen from the outside, and JLA just made that possible for Poppy. Honestly, this might be a small detail no one cares about and which I weirdly do, but I had no idea what Poppy even sounded like. Naturally, a person rarely describes their own voice, and it’s even more rare for that description to match what others hear. So reading Hawke listen to Poppy and comment on her voice was strangely satisfying—I was simultaneously as shocked as Hawke and yet not surprised at all, because that earthy voice fits her.
And that’s it. It was also hot as hell but that’s not new information. I’m done.
If The Gilded Wolves was a gentleman pickpocket slipping through the luxurious aristocratic parties of Paris, The Silvered Serpents is an anguisheIf The Gilded Wolves was a gentleman pickpocket slipping through the luxurious aristocratic parties of Paris, The Silvered Serpents is an anguished ghost dreaming of godhood, haunting the corridors of a palace of ice, hunting myths.
“I wish my love was more beautiful.”
Sometimes you read books for page turner, grand action and fast paced, epic twists and turns, yes, but sometimes you read them for carefully plotted brilliance and mystical mysteries, sometimes you pick them up for delicate sleights of hand, secret recluses, and immersive writing that unveils the need in your heart. Sometimes, you seek a book that is more adverb than action—as Roshani Chokshi puts it.
This series is of the latter kind.
“Sometimes ghost stories are all that is left of history,” he said. “History is full of ghosts because it’s full of myth, all of it woven together depending on who survived to do the telling.”
With this second installment, Roshani takes a step further than science and magic forged as art, history and fiction entwined in puzzles. With The Silvered Serpents, she walks beyond history and into myth—the truths covered in cobwebs whispered and twisted and hidden behind forgotten doors, the truths that horrify and intrigue—embracing stories of all corners of the world, from Greek goddesses to Middle Eastern origins of Rapunzel. And more than myths, Roshani tells the tale of humanity, of belonging and being scorned, of murdered girls and stolen women, denied motherhood and gripped power, of malice cultivated between girls who were not allowed to dream, and of dead girls forced to guard treasure in invisible palaces.
The Silvered Serpents is in many ways the opposite of its predecessor; where TGW was light, TSS is gloomy, grief and guilt and transfixing agony bordering its edges. So it can also be said that this a tale of pain, unflinching in its foray into darkness, of found families falling apart and loss tearing bonds into pieces, of love that does not always wear the face you want, of love that is not beautiful and wounds with its cruelty. This is a tale that plays with your heartstrings.
Maybe for girls made of snow, love was worth the melt. But she was made of stolen bones and sleek fur, grave dirt and strange blood—her heart wasn’t even hers to give. Her soul was all she had, and no love was worth losing it.
So put your shields up around your heart, because goodbyes are in order. For now, there is one more acquisition and five people headed their own ways who come back, each for different reasons, to complete one last treasure hunt. But “In debating the merits of pursuing hidden treasure, one must weigh the risk of whether it was never meant to be found and if so, why?” Because someone...someone wants to play god.
❆ First, Let’s Get the Criticism Out of the Way ❆
“I saw what I wanted to see,” he said, hoarse. “Only a desperate man trusts a mirage in the desert.”
In the spirit of honesty and even though I hate complaining, I will have to admit that, while I loved TSS, the writer and critic in me can’t stop thinking of all the ways this gem of anguished longing and impossible dreams could have been more than just a fave—it could have been an all-time fave! Sigh, me and my obsession with books being the best versions of themselves will one day kill me but, for now, on the matter of equally cutting the book into three to rate and proceeding to address the elephant in the room:
First ⅓ ⤑ ★★★★✯ Second ⅓ ⤑ ★★★☆☆ Third ⅓ ⤑ ★★★★✯
Here’s the thing: one reason why The Gilded Wolves had me enchanted from page one to page I-don’t-remember-how-many-pages-it-was-and-I’m-too-lazy-to-check-just-assume-I-wrote-the-number-of-the-last-page, was the lush and aristocratic, atmospheric setting which caught and trapped me in 1889 Paris so thoroughly I all but became a willing prisoner and fell in love with my captive (Stockholm syndrome right there)—the setting and the wonder and artistry of L’Eden that The Silvered Serpents does not have.
What he felt now was a different kind of incredulity. The kind where one has released a dream into the world, only to rediscover it on the ground, trampled and stained.
Don’t me wrong, Roshani’s writing is still breathtakingly immersive and I walked every path alongside my tragic gang of mischiefs, absorbed every landscape, breathed in every smell. And even as I was aware that the Parisian atmosphere would be missing in this sequel, I expected it to be replaced with a chillingly Russian one. It was not—well, it was, but for only a few chapters. What’s more, the characters spent a long time wandering around an abandoned ice palace trying to solve mysteries and taking too long to figure out what’s right in front of them. I am not saying the puzzles and clues were not clever, they always are with Roshani, what I’m saying is that so are the characters.
Knowledge was coy. It liked to hide beneath the shroud of myth, place its heart in a fairy tale, as if it were a prize at the end of the quest. Perhaps whatever knowledge was here was similar. Perhaps it wished to be wooed and coaxed forth.
What I’d have loved is for the plotting to have been entirely different, with plot points moved earlier/later in the book to bring out the full potential of this tale. What I’d have loved is for the Winter Conclave to have been a weeks-long event and for the cast to take residence in Russia (letting me drown in my requested setting vibes) and attempt to crack the mystery even as they have to navigate the politics of European Houses and soak in intrigue because oh the lost opportunity for politicking, world expansion, and dive into the dirty laundry of the greedy, imperialist Order! What I’d have loved is for the gang to then slip away with their supporters to the discovered location, the other Houses on their tail, and explore the haunted palace faster with less unnecessary procrastination. What I’d have loved is a confrontation upon the Order’s arrival and then everything that happened at the end.
I did not get what I’d have loved. I loved what I got (mostly) but while everyone declared book one to be confusing in plot (I did not) I found book two to be too simple in plot (no one else did).
❆ Now Allow Me to Fall Apart for the Characters ❆
“We need to separate Vasiliev from his bodyguards,” said Séverin. “Something that can pull men apart—” “Money?” asked Enrique. “Love!” said Hypnos. “Magnets,” said Zofia. Laila, Enrique, and Hypnos turned to stare at her. “Powerful magnets,” Zofia amended.
✦ Séverin: Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, Paris’s most influential investor and owner of the grandest hotel in France, is an idiot. My emotions swung between wanting to hug him, punch him, kiss him, scream at him, and do more confusing things to him—I settled for Laila making him squirm.
“You always see so clearly into the darkness of men’s hearts, Monsieur Montagnet-Alarie,” she said, before adding in a softer voice, “But I remember when you used to see wonder.” Séverin reached for his water goblet. “And now I see truth.”
This stubborn, irrational, beautiful boy filled with so much longing, this commanding, imaginative, observant boy who once saw wonder where he now sees pain, lets his grief and self hate drown him in the skeletons in Tristan’s closets and the demons beneath his bed, and refuses everyone’s hand, shunning his closest friends who have to step back lest the drowning man take them down as well. I can relate to his fear of being powerless, shutting himself away at the first sign of vulnerability. But what he does to escape his pain is seeking to escape humanity, practicing the cold, cruel tyranny of indifference because, “for the sake of what he needed to do, he had to be apart, not a part,” for the sake of gaining invincibility, he looks to leave mortality behind. “Ah, Majnun. The madman who lost himself to an impossible dream.”
He was like a cursed prince, trapped in the worst version of himself. And nothing she possessed—not her kiss freely given, nor her heart shyly offered—could break the thrall that held him because he had done it to himself.
✦ Laila: I was going to write a ballad for this empowering Indian gem of existence who would not let her death be in service to another’s character, her pain what he’d feed on to find his strength, this utter queen without a crown who reminds me of Nina Zenik after her glorious character development...but I’m too lazy so watch me pluck sentences out of the book and put them together because, truly, Roshani says it better than I ever could. “Laila was like a fairy tale plucked from the pages of a book—a girl with a curse woven into her heartbeat. A mirage glimpsed through smoke. A temptation in the desert that lulls the soul into thinking of false promises. The essence of her was walking into a room, and all eyes pinned to her, as if she were the performance of a lifetime. The essence of her was a smile full of forgiveness, the warmth in her hands, sugar in her hair.”
Laila was salvaged bones, and the snow maiden was only gathered snow. Love didn’t deserve to thaw their wits and turn their hearts to dust.
✦ Zofia: There are not many people who make me proud of my Gryffindor side, yet Zofia with her sympathies for a broken machine is one of them. She is my dangerously flammable Phoenix and favourite of the cast (next to Laila) not because of her autism (which is perfectly portrayed in her different way of processing the world, such as when the subtleties of language and art are lost on her) but because she strives to be brave even with fear of the unknown, to be independent and helpful even as she feels like a burden and knows that she needs others’ help. Zofia is a unique type of empowering female character and I relished seeing her shine in this sequel.
“If there were stairs to hell, would you venture down those?” “It depends on what was inside hell, and if I needed it.”
✦ Enrique: This charming, adorable, biracial boy is longing incarnate. He is the longing for a home to call your own and a place to belong when both sides of who you are shun you. He is the longing to be heard and and seen for all you have done and can do when no one holds you worthy for your truth. He is longing, and how can one not relate to him, not feel for him?
“When a man cannot see a person as a person, then the devil has slipped into him and is peering out of his eyes.”
✦ Hypnos: You know that friend who wants to help but does more unintentional harm than good because he is so clueless and lonely and has no idea how to have friends? Yes, this is him. The reason him and Enrique bonded so easily was because Hypnos, too, is a biracial vision of reaching hands, wanting to belong and prove his worth; but the difference is that, in many things, Hypnos is more casual and ridiculous fun seeking, and to be honest, I cannot stop thinking of how great a drag queen he could have been. My heart bled in glee every time he contributed to the group and was recognised.
“Why isn’t he going in?” muttered Hypnos. “Fear of dismemberment,” said Zofia. “If I were designing thief-catching mechanisms, I would have a device rigged to attack the first three people who entered.” Hypnos stepped behind Zofia. “Ladies first.”
❆ And Then There Is the Curse That is the Relationships ❆
That was how friendship felt to her, an illumination too vast for her senses to capture. Yet she did not doubt its presence. And she held that light close to her as step by step, she ventured down the stairs.
The relationships in TSS were probably the best part for me. Because what this book gave me was layered friendships falling apart at the seams and being stitched back together. What it gave me was lovers parting peacefully with mutual understanding soaked in pain, and bonds blooming in opposites, two halves of a whole, completing one another and showing each other the side they could not see on their own. Oh what it gave me was two hearts drenched in rage-filled anguish (which I’ve found to be my fave emotion) playing at cat and mouse.
He first glimpsed her through the mirror, like a fairy tale where the hero crept upon the monster, risking only a glance at her reflection lest she turn his heart to stone. Only this was its inversion. Now the monster glanced upon the maiden, risking only a glimpse of her reflection lest she turn his stone to heart.
I ask you, is this not the most beautiful declaration of love you’ve ever read? “Perhaps, all goddesses are just beliefs draped on the scaffolding of ideas. I can’t touch what’s not real. But I can worship it all the same.” Yup, I died too. Until my next session of gushing, goodbye and try not to die.
Thank you to my superhero for providing me with an eARC through Edelweiss!
If you value your sanity, don’t read this book unless you also hold the sequel—but if you’re my friend, you probably never valued your sanity(4.5 ★’s)
If you value your sanity, don’t read this book unless you also hold the sequel—but if you’re my friend, you probably never valued your sanity anyways. So allow me to give you a breakdown of what is currently going on in my obsessed brain:
✦ Am I too biased to even attempt to rate this objectively? Definitely. ✦ Isn’t the rating ultimately about my thoughts and emotions and, besides, can’t it be said that if the issues did not obscure my enjoyment then they don’t truly matter to me anyhow? I believe so, yes. ✦ And did I love this? Love? I am dead. ✦ Did that love have everything to do with the romance and characters which are, in the end, the entire point of this paranormal-fantasy romance? Undoubtedly. ✦ Were the characters and romance everything I, the aromantic dark-loving I, look for when picking up romance? Unequivocally ✦ Are they particularly healthy? Not really. ✦ Do I care? Not even a little bit. ✦ Will you now be assaulted with me “level-headedly” gushing over this romance and trying to explain why it’s so special to me? You got it. *winky wink*
To put it simply: if you, like me, crave from time to time a disarmingly seductive and feral new adult romance of enemies to lovers in an engagement of convenience, overflowing with deliciously addictive drama, delightfully humourous banter, easy-to-love side characters, and wickedly creative steam, a recurring theme of real or play-pretend deftly woven throughout its every thread, and want it to be unique and make you feel and cheer and bleed, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire will provide even better than its predecessor, with a young woman who will never again be a passive pawn, a prince who is more mad than man, and a war of love where neither side is afraid to fight to steal a heart and keep their own.
“Beauty, my sweet child, is often broken and barbed, and always unexpected.”
I’ll admit, this series feels like a mix of so many pieces plucked from other bestsellers, namely Twilight and A Court of Mist and Fury, except it’s somehow not a bad reminder because the pieces are turned on their heads. Where Twilight had a problematically romanticised dynamic of a cat and a mouse, AKoFaF has two cats playing chase. Where ACoMaF was too sweetly romantic for me, AKoFaF does it more ferociously. Honestly, what is more captivating than two savage souls tearing into one another, taking pieces and denying that the other holds too many of theirs?
Now to put it not simply:
➸ AKoFaF Vs. FBaA: Fave or All-Time Fave?
Let’s let get the whining out of the way before I can get to the level-headed gushing. AKoFaF is, technically, better than FBaA. Which is only natural, as the tension is already there, the scale is grander, the world is vaster, it’s even smuttier (and I do not say this lightly because I was murdered), etcetera etcetera, you know how this goes. BUT, while I’m giving both books the same rating, while they are both predictable and I don’t mind, while both are not good at building mysteries in a way that it makes sense before unravelling, FBaA was an all-time fave and AKoFaF only a fave. Why?
✧ What made FBaA iconic is no longer there: It doesn’t matter that the first book was smaller in scale—bigger scale does not automatically equal a better book. And From Blood and Ash did what it did just right, focusing on the iconic dynamic of a secret-warrior Maiden and her shameless flirt of a guard; but AKoFaF did not. With a bigger scale comes a bigger responsibility, and you just can’t take the same approach and unceremoniously dump it into a wholly different type of book. JLA did capture the grandness rather well at the very end, and she evidently stole my heart again. And yet.
✧ Someone explain to me why people found FBaA to have a slow start and not AKoFaF: With FBaA, being stuck in a keep was understandable and expected; there was no urgency to move from the MC’s home. But in AKoFaF you turn every page waiting for them to get off your asses and move already. And yet they don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the small drama and the new enemies to lovers romance, but it needed to happen on the move dammit not in a keep no one cares about.
✧ There is no conclusion what the fuck: I’m just gonna go ahead and question my and everyone else’s sanity who thinks this is a complete book. Spoiler alert, it’s not. Or maybe I just misplaced the last chapters where the build up and the mysteries raised through the entire book actually got even a semi answer. My bad. Please move on to my incessant gushing now.
➸ Romance: The Heart & Soul of It All
“You’re beautiful when you’re quiet and somber, but when you laugh? You rival the sunrise over the Skotos Mountains.”
In all the vast, wild world, there are different kinds of relationships; there are cute partners who give each other sweet whispers and kisses, there are steely partners who provide peace in their steady embrace, and then there are playful partners whose very dynamic is a cat and mouse chase. All relationships have a little bit of the three, but yours magnanimously naughty soul gravitates, unsurprisingly, towards the ones with a dominant playful side. That’s why I live for Poppy and Cas.
In all the aforementioned vast, wild world though, there are also different kinds of understanding; when we hear the word, don’t we usually think of sympathy for another’s pain, comradeship in compassion, or acceptance of different beliefs? Well, what about rage or hate? What about understanding one’s vengeance and seeking no sympathy? Understanding is, as a rule, crucial to us living side by side as varied humans, but yours raging truly gravitates, you guessed it, towards the latter the most. That is also why I live for Poppy and Cas.
“Retribution is yours, if you want it,” he said. “And if not, I will be your blade, the thing that ends his miserable existence. It’s your choice.”
Readers keep comparing these two to Feysand from A Court of Mist and Fury and they need to stop. Stop this madness right this moment! Feyre and Rhysand are, as a rule, sweetness seeking people. Yes, they have their playful side, but the core of their relationship is being cute and adorable and romantic and whispering sweet nothings. That doesn’t make them any less of a great couple (I do love them), it just makes them less of a my type of couple. Whereas Poppy and Cas, despite occasionally being romantic and adorable and making declarations of love, operate on a bloodsport-type of dynamic (seriously, Raleigh Ritchie’s song Bloodsport exists for these two no kidding; you can find it on my playlist), baiting, circling one another, looking to draw first blood. It’s a constant, neverending challenge, a game of who will best whom, and it killed me and revived me and dug a den deep into my abandoned heart and no I’m not dramatic you’re dramatic.
Their repeated scenarios of stabbing-threats and pretending-promises aren’t JLA being out of ideas (her banter and, obviously, drop-dead steamy scenes are signs of her creativity), what they are is an accurate, in-character core to their bond, the type of which you’d usually find in well-developed partnerships with too much history. What they are is a cycle: he teases, she brandishes dagger, he in enticed, she is enticed, so he teases, so she brandishes dagger, so he is enticed even more, and you know how it goes. That most likely sounds like a very dysfunctional romance, but to quote Cas, “You can’t spell dysfunctional without fun, now can you?” He wants a fight, she wants a fight, it’s a win-win. And them both being vengeful, ruthless creatures and experiencing a blooming development to embrace the other’s darker side is only a plus. Stop criticising them for not being a sane, boring, logical matching please and thank you.
“By the way, I’m not yours,” I told him. “I don’t belong to anyone but myself. Nothing changes that.” “What if I just wanted a piece of you? A tiny piece that belonged to me? [...] Tell me what piece of you I can have. It can be any piece of your choosing. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.” His chin grazed my cheek. “It will be my most prized possession.”
Three further points to note in response to criticism of AKoFaF: ❶ the issues and possibly problematic aspects to their dynamic are not glossed over and instead acknowledged, ❷ he is clearly insane, and she wants him not as in the body-betrying kind but the I-want-you-even-as-I-hate-you, I-love-you-even-as-I-shouldn’t, and I-might-be-a-little-insane-too one, there is a difference, and ❸ even as Cas perpetually teases Poppy, he is not dismissing her and laughing at her but in delight of how she is serious about her threats, all because he loves the challenge she is.
➸ Casteel: I Will FiveEver Be Swooning
“That was a temporary loss of sanity.” “That’s my favorite kind.”
You see, the reason I’m in love with Cas is not because he is devilishly charming, irresistibly handsome, and willfully princely (though that helps), neither is it because he is impossibly insufferable, unbelievably challenging, and endearingly ridiculous (though that came close); it’s because he is an unhinged, vicious, murderous tyrant next to all the above, having gone through horrors, changing, and then carrying out his own horrible acts, effectively earning the title of the Dark One (unlike SOME hero-or-villain supposedly dark YA love interests *cue eye roll*). Casteel is mad, but all the best people are.
One of the main reasons for why AKoFaF slayed as it did was the delve into Cas’s character, deadly dark side and lonely vulnerable side all unleashed on the reader. I can only beg JLA to not ruin him in the sequel because finding a character I stan this much is rare and scary—too many times have authors chosen to step back from the madness, efficiently breaking my heart of ice. I still bear the bruises.
➸ Poppy: I Agree With Casteel on This One
“Fearing what you’re capable of doesn’t mean I fear you.”
I know Cas has said it enough times but...she is rather violent, isn’t she. I realise that coming at things like a battering ram is not the best strategy (it’s actually one reason why Gryffindors, despite being a huge part of me, annoy me every now and then) but I, to put it simply, adore her. Maybe it’s because I relate to her impulsive randomness, maybe it’s due to how hilarious her living-to-snap way of life is (I would sacrifice anything for a good laugh—even you); or perhaps it’s based on her aching for freedom or how she remains clever and rather wise when she’s not overwhelmed by her emotions; mayhaps it has to do with her deserving the “badass female lead” description, her rashness pointed out as she proceeds to provide me with a queenly character development. I have no idea.
What I do know is that Poppy spent too long trapped in silence as her future was chosen for her, her life discussed around her with only being on the recieving end of an order, and she will no longer wait to be rescued or controlled. I cheered with every breath in and every breath out for her to show them all that, “forcing a warrior to don a veil of submission was never going to last.”
➸ Kieran: A Moment of Appreciation, Please
I turned to him. “Were you injured?” “Would you fret with worry if I was?” The corners of my lips turned down. No? Yes? “Not particularly.” “Ouch.” He pressed a hand to his chest. “You wound me yet again.” “He’s not wounded,” Kieran answered. “At least, not physically. Emotionally, I believe you left him shredded.”
This is naught but a short paragraph of me telling you of how thoroughly my baby Kieran snatched my heart with his semi-bored constant sarcasm, his growing friendship with Poppy rooted in his imparting of wisdom, and his precious bromance with Cas. Move along now.
➸ World Building: Do I Need To Rant Again?
Fortunately for you, the answer is no. Yes, there were still parts of the mythology that were poorly explained (e.g. everything that has to do with the deities and heartmates) but the missing glue creeped between the jumble of picked paranormal slash fantasy elements to turn the mismatched into a successful match, and the world expanded tenfold. So, you won’t hear me complaining. (I realise you just did, but shhhhh, go to sleep.)
Lo and behold: the Middle Book Syndrome strikes again. Sigh. Made for a great playlist (Spotify URL) but oh the mess that this was...
B&HLo and behold: the Middle Book Syndrome strikes again. Sigh. Made for a great playlist (Spotify URL) but oh the mess that this was...
B&H was both better and worse than its predecessor—no longer underdeveloped yet bearing a plot that is hot mess incarnate, sprinkled with lots of filler aaanddd not much of anything else, plus daring to reverse all arcs back to ground zero.
I mean, Reid was practically intolerable.
I enjoyed it (thus the 3 stars that, according to GR, translate to “I liked it”) because (a) I loved seeing Lou finally live up to her I’m dark claims and (b) the writing was fantastic and much improved and (c) world, relationships, and concepts were better developed and of course (d) Beau is bae.
So I might not be able to prove this with mathematics or geometry or whatever, but this cover is so aesthetically perfect it just changed the centre oSo I might not be able to prove this with mathematics or geometry or whatever, but this cover is so aesthetically perfect it just changed the centre of gravity to my life. I’m actually falling sideways.
Or maybe that’s just me fainting. Interesting.
Okay, wait a sec I think I can prove it *picks up ruller and golden ratio*
Ahh, perfection; can I have more accurate representation of mental health and recovery—such as this—in books, please? If it’s not too much trouble, ofAhh, perfection; can I have more accurate representation of mental health and recovery—such as this—in books, please? If it’s not too much trouble, of course.
“I’m always afraid now. I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of water.” My shoulders heaved. “I’m afraid I’ll never be able to fight again.” “Fear does not extinguish courage.”
This novella is a love letter to pain and healing, trust and support, companionship and understanding. I’m so grateful that it did not brush past any of Paige’s PTSD and affects of withdrawal, and proceeded to explore her struggles in a journey of 80 slow and heavy-yet-light pages peppered with satisfactory moments of sweet laughter and soft reprieve, striking a delicate balance through providing much needed breaths of fresh air among all the raw pain and emotions.
I was a razor blade, all edge and gleam, and I needed to be dulled. I needed to fade. Not to die, not to disappear altogether – just to soften, so the world stopped catching on my sharp corners. So I didn’t feel it when it scraped me. I ached for the comfort of absence. I longed to exist less severely.
There isn’t much of a plot really, or much movement, and absolutely no excitement. What there is, however, is an emotional dive into Paige and Warden’s characters and relationship, and I am not exaggerating when I say I was a hapless weeping mess during the last chapter.
Because the sheer heartwrenching beauty of how Paige’s struggle was handled, added to Samantha Shannon’s (unsurprisingly) detailed and exquisite writing, became a warm embrace—one of those that made you feel so safe and understood that you would unwillingly melt against their arms, letting the dam of your tears break, flooding your drought-seen skin.
“See me now,” he said. “I will always carry the scars, and the memories, but I regained my strength. I found myself again. So will you.”
I remember liking Warden and their relationship but, with these few chapters, I have somehow come to adore both him and their bond. His patience, wisdom, and understanding while he walked the path of healing with Paige was utterly soul-soothing.
He never told her that what you are feeling is not correct or you should abandon those thoughts and emotions as they are not true, because you can’t just will it away. Instead, he (or should I say Samantha) phrased his argument better than I could’ve imagined, telling her that, “if your fear is based on the lies of [redacted] and [redacted], then I urge you to fight it” while also giving her space. And most importantly, Paige’s healing doesn’t suddenly come to a close; she’s just beginning to take baby steps everyday because “the birds sing in the twilight that bridges night and day. While they sing, we exist on the threshold between two states,” and this is the dawn chorus.
“Listen,” he said. “To the storm. It has the potential to destroy. It is neither quiet, nor gentle, nor soft. That does not make it unnatural.” Lightning illuminated his features, the blue making his eyes stand out. “Let the storm into you, Paige. Hold it inside. See yourself as a force of nature, vast enough to defeat a god, and carry that image for all of your days.”
I highly recommend reading this novella both for the character and relationship development as well as the little clues and groundwork laid out for what might be coming next. [image] Companions