Author: Sarah J. Mass
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Fantasy; Romance; New Adult
Release Date: March 3rd 2020.
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
This is a not an easy book to review. For one, it’s 800+ pages long. Add to that, the four parts of the book read like separate books with their different flows and pacing and also styling. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also makes it hard for me to judge the book on its entirety. But I’ll still make an attempt.
Here is what I liked :
- The protagonist Bryce is flawed, independent and living a carefree life at the beginning.
- The friendship between Bryce and Dannika. In fact, all the female friendships that Bryce has.
- The equation between Bryce and her half brother.
- The pet chimera that Bryce has.
- The theme of slavery and its impacts.
Now, time for an essay on what I disliked. Brace yourselves!
In the first part, information about the world is thrown randomly at us. It’s like Mass name-dropped a new term in every other line with little to no explanation. My head was going all “Vanir? Seven gates? Hel? Pack of devils?Under King?…Just wait!”
In her defense, Mass, at the start, does provide a map and a short rundown about the four houses of Midgar. But that still did not help me digest the blizzard of information thrown my way at the beginning.
The fluctuation of the pacing
The first part while not boring, did feel overwhelming and failed to engage me. But the climax of that part, and the beginning of the second part not only was impactful but it compelled me to be invested in the story. But that was probably the peak because by 40%, the book again lost me. I kept zoning out while reading. The pace did pick up at certain places, and definitely at the last quarter. But I was out of patience by then.
The Murder Investigation
Murder mysteries are not Mass’s forte. The plot dragged. While I was very much still engaged when Bryce started investigating the case with Hunt, angel extraordinaire and our hero, but my interest started to slowly falter. It was unnecessarily drawn out with no end in sight. Bryce and Hunt seemed to meet up with a new person every day. A new character after every few pages, and yet no progress. After a point, I kept internally willing the investigation to just wrap up!
Unconvincing character development of the protagonist
I found Bryce to be a breath of fresh air at first. She is simply living and enjoying her life. Very unlike the author’s other heroines who I always felt were too self-righteous and slightly passive-aggressive (here’s looking at you, Feyre). I really liked that she is a genuine badass and not a martyr or self-righteous or out to save the world.
But guess what? By the end, she was all these things. The transformation, however was unconvincing. I got backlash seeing her do and say things at the end that were a complete reversal of her character. Her evolution was simply unsatisfying.
Hunt is no Rhys
I found Hunt the most exciting when he is introduced to us in a chapter with POV of his investigation partner Isiah. I had high expectations. But they all died just a couple of chapters later, when we get the his POV. Where was this ruthless, unpredictable, steely man that we were promised?
It had taken a book and a half for us to slowly grasp the character that was Rhys. But only a couple of chapters did that for Hunt. I think it would have been better for us to get his POV a little later on. The mystery of what made him tick went away too soon.
The unimpressive romance
The synopsis claims that the romance is sizzling. I guess by their definition, sizzling romance means the main couple getting interrupted every time they are about to have sex. It’s a 800+ page novel for god’s sake! That’s not to say I did not like the early equation between the two. There are misunderstandings about each other. But the moment they are cleared, these two start bonding and sharing life stories. The progression of the romance also could have been better.
The feeling of dejavu
There were just too many similarities with Mass’s other books and characters for me to ignore them. There are four cities here instead of courts. There was some rebellion and war that the hero took part in. The hero has lost the woman he loved. There is an oracle. Even certain scenes, and the ending itself had stark echoes from A course of Thorns and Roses.
It’s officially my least favorite work by Mass. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t read her previous works. But so many of the myths and plot devices felt borrowed from her other works that it screamed for originality! I was also underwhelmed by the epilogue. I doubt I’ll read the sequel.