Rereading my previous reviews of the first two books in this YA fantasy trilogy, my issues remain unchanged in terms of execution: pacing, dramatic moments that don’t make a big enough impact, and murky worldbuilding. However, this book is my least favorite of the series because, unlike the first two, it doesn’t subvert fairytale tropes in as interesting a way. Although the final message–that one doesn’t need a love interest to be happy–is solid and probably still unique for such a story, I miss the play with gender and sexuality present in the first couple books. In the end, it’s also still unclear to me what this world’s view of Evil actually is.
Does it sound like I’m being too serious and picky for a YA novel? Really it’s just difficult to discuss a book that does question some major storytelling dichotomies without getting heavy. But there are also so many amazing YA novels and worlds out there that we know what the genre can do.
The book still surprised me, as they all have, and Agatha in particular is a complex heroine, with many admirable and relatable moments. She has an inner strength that it’s part of Sophie’s journey to discover in herself. However, I struggled with a key sequence where Sophie and Agatha feel very suddenly to have changed course. It was also a pain to read Agatha and Tedros’s parts in the beginning; they’re annoying as hell as they bicker. A lot of the comedy falls flat for me.
I see this book is highly rated on amazon, with many saying it’s their favorite of the trilogy. I can’t agree, but when the movie comes out, I’ll look forward to the adaptation as these books have felt more like movies from the start.