Genre: Fantasy, Teens & YA
Publication Date: January 3, 2023
The start of a swoony, high-energy duology that Emily Lloyd-Jones, author of The Bone Houses, calls “reminiscent of classic fairytales yet brimming with a charm all its own.”
“A world of glimmering fae that sparkles with mystery, adventure, and enchantment.” —Andrew Joseph White, New York Times bestselling author of Hell Followed with Us
Iselia “Seelie” Graygrove looks just like her twin, Isolde…but as an autistic changeling left in the human world by the fae as an infant, she has always known she is different. Seelie’s unpredictable magic makes it hard for her to fit in—and draws her and Isolde into the hunt for a fabled treasure. In a heist gone wrong, the sisters make some unexpected allies and find themselves unraveling a mystery that has its roots in the history of humans and fae alike.
Both sisters soon discover that the secrets of the faeries may be more valuable than any pile of gold and jewels. But can Seelie harness her magic in time to protect her sister and herself?
“Housman’s stunning debut is the sort of love letter only an autistic author could write. Fae canon has been waiting for this one.” —H.E. Edgmon, author of The Witch King
What I liked about the book:
1. I was definitely drawn in by the cover! The colors, the sisterly bond, the badass stances. It all screamed “PICK ME UP AND DEVOUR ME!”
2. I’m a sucker for a good ragtag group trying to solve problems and overthrow the government/monarchy, which this book definitely had in spades. I also liked that the characters were strategic and good at their own things, but they ALSO got their asses handed to them plenty of times. They weren’t all invincible and time and time again it showed with the circumstances they ended up in.
3. I liked the characters for the most part, though I felt they were rather surface-level except Seelie.
Seelie is the underdog main character for sure. She has been misunderstood and a misfit her whole life because of being a changeling and because of being on the spectrum. I loved how the author was able to show little signs of Seelie being autistic without ever addressing it directly; being an autistic writer, she definitely knew what she was doing when she showed us rather than told us. It was creatively and wonderfully done. My problems with Seelie came down to she was boring and a bit selfish at times. This for the main character along with some pacing issues we’ll talk about in a bit, left a lot to be desired for me.
Isolde reminds me so much of my best friend, Michelle. She is fierce, she is patient, and she is a little ruffian! I wish we got more insight into her character, as I felt she was always being overshadowed by Seelie.
Olani was just flat-out a badass. I loved seeing her militant fighting style, but then also seeing her tenderly heal others. It was such a good juxtaposition for her character and I wanted more! I also have this really BIG need for her and Isolde to end up together!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! Again, I felt we only scratched the surface of her character unfortunately.
Finally, I liked that Raze, who I can only assume is going to be Seelie’s love interest in book 2, was not the “typical” hulking hero. Yes, the boy was strong, but he was also a little round and had stark red hair…so basically I pictured a less insufferable Ron Weasley the whole time. This, along with his humor and grin, had me loving him for Seelie instantly!
What could have been better:
1. As mentioned previously, I felt none of the characters were dove into satisfactorily, except Seelie who was almost unbearable for me at times.
2. “The start of a swoony, high-energy duology”…I call bullshit on this one. There was no swoon because there was no confirmed love interests. This was also definitely not high-energy. The pacing at times left me fighting the urge to skim or left me rereading several paragraphs I zoned out during. Never a good sign, but especially bad when you advertise as “high-energy”.
3. Sisters in a strange, magical world where everything and everyone isn’t as it/they seem? I feel like I’ve read this book before…there was nothing really original about the plot and there are so many other books in this arena that are breathtakingly done that it’s unfair to compare…but someone has to!
Heavy YA, heavy fantasy. Read if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.
Final Rating: 3 stars!
Thank you to NetGalley, Inkyard Press, and Ivelisse Housman for the free copy of this e-ARC. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.