Rating: 3 stars
I wasn’t originally planning on rating this, since I was reading off the omnibus edition released somewhat recently. But oh my goodness, that version changed so much! I’ll go more into that when I review the edition as a whole, but suffice it to say that there was some serious editing that happened between this original version and the combined copy. It’s not just an omnibus, it’s a veritable rewrite.
That said, this was sort of hard to rate even on its own merits. It felt very much like something that I would have been in love with had I read it when I was 13 and utterly obsessed with all things fae. I used to read creepy stories from the 1800s about changelings for fun. And this definitely had those creepy faeries I so craved. I also really liked how the characters were kind of all awful people as that was a great element to add to the intended realism of the story. People are multidimensional and sometimes they’re not rainbows and sunshine all the time. Sometimes a mean protagonist works (I’m looking at you, rewritten Corny 👀)
Now, simply having some degree of depth didn’t save this book. It suffered from a truly dreadful plot that was consistently confusing. There were very few clear transitions, so I often had no idea what was even happening and when it occurred. And from what I did understand, this had nothing to say. It was largely pointless. It dallied with some themes but didn’t stick with them in any meaningful way. I find Black’s work tends to do this often. I’ve never read something by her that had anything to it. It’s all aesthetic for aesthetic’s sake, which is fine, I guess, but undeniably boring after a while.
Though I will say, she’s the only urban fantasy author who doesn’t irk me with unnecessary real world insertion. She lets the fantasy feel plausible enough on its own without making grand claims about how Harry Houdini was a demigod 😒🙄 One way to break reality is to bring up reality, and she didn’t do that. She just wrote a world like our own and put spooky faeries in it. So good job, I guess!
Buy the book here: