I bought this book last week from Waterstones after seeing so many people on Bookstagram raving about it. I had come across it on Netgalley previously but didn’t really feel like I’d like it, and I wish I’d listened to myself and not spent money on it in all honesty.
I don’t like leaving bad reviews. Those who read my blog regularly know that I rarely ever do it because I usually DNF books which I don’t like. So what made me a) finish this one and b) decide to leave a negative review?
Ok, so to summarise the plot first of all. In a magical world, heavily influenced by Nigeria, Zèlie is a Diviner, her mother was a Maji killed by the king when the magic was taken away and so Zèlie has never experienced magic for herself. Along with her brother Tzain she just tries to survive in a world where she is seen as a ‘maggot’ because of the white hair and darker skin which identifies her. So when Zélie discovers there’s a chance to get magic back, she goes on a journey which tests her resilience and that of those she loves.
Sounds great right?
So why did I not DNF this book? Well, everyone seemed so excited about it and the reviews and ratings are so good, I’ve been really busy launching my small business making bookish candles and prepping for a market, and I’ve been studying my genealogy so I was wrapped up in other things. So when I felt like I wasn’t desperate to pick this up or felt like it was taking me way longer to read than other books, I put it down to the fact that my mind was on other things. But while some of it may have been that, I think it’s more to do with the following…
firstly, I found the story to be incredibly flat. I was never immersed, I never felt like I was ‘becoming one of the characters’ or getting into their psyche and I’ll tell you why I think this was. Each chapter was told from the perspective of 3 characters; Zèlie the main character, Amerie the crown princess and Inan the crown prince. The chapters were all Very Short and therefore you never spent enough time with one of them to actually form any kind of bond with them.
The story felt like 100 other books I’ve read except not written as well.
The world building was poor, I didn’t feel immersed in the surroundings, I couldn’t picture the surroundings and I didn’t feel like I was there, witnessing or experiencing the story.
The dialogue was repetitive, people just thinking or saying the same things over and over and over again and the book size could have been cut in half had there been less repetition.
Unsure what was going on half the time. People changed allegiance so swiftly, Magic was there then it wasn’t then it was again then it wasn’t. People loved other people then hated them and there was seemingly no reason behind any of that. In fact it just demonstrated shallowness in the characters which again made them unlikeable.
I’m sorry to anyone who loved this but I have no idea why it would be compared to the likes of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor and anyone who has read books by these authors would be sure to agree.