My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This review originally appeared on Around the World in 80 Books!
This book was a struggle for me. I had high hopes since people had been buzzing about this novel on Twitter for a while. And I think there is something in this story worth telling, I just didn’t get it.
My main issue was that the narrative perspective (though in 3rd person limited) jumped between the large cast very frequently. I didn’t have an opportunity to fully grasp each character’s voice before I was in the perspective of someone else. I like having main characters for this purpose, I know who I am supposed to be following, who I’m rooting for. In the case of this cast, I didn’t feel strongly towards any of them. Darien seemed to be a strong contender, but Lin was with him for more than half the novel, and what about Rianna and Ned? Should I feel something for them besides seeing them as spoiled?
Secondly, and this is totally on me and not the author, I didn’t understand the purpose of “The Path.” It’s not until the last 50 pages or so that it becomes clearer how “The Path” can save the city and break the bonds that have prevented Poets from using magic. But it didn’t make sense to me. I did not understand how poets were allowed to use magic, but not lay people? What distinguishes a poet from any other ordinary citizen?
The writing was superb, lyrical (as is appropriate when discussing poets and songs), without being over-flowery. The writing reminded me of oral storytelling being written and passed down for future generations–much like the archives of the Poet Library. I did notice a small nod to George R.R. Martin near the beginning, with the mention of red comet as an omen of the red death. Or maybe that is just an omen in any world?
My thoughts are conflicted. I wasn’t able to sink into the world like I wanted, but I still enjoyed the writing and some of the world building I could grasp. I would like to hear different perspectives on this novel because I noticed a lot of readers enjoyed it immensely, but unfortunately I was not one of them.