Reviewed by May
Simon and Meg once again return to the center of this beautifully crafted world, for yet another installment of The Others series. This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order, as the story truly carries over through the series. We pick up in this book where we last left off, with Namid’s teeth and claws considering this question:
How much human should we keep?
A chilling question to be sure, as in this world humans may feel all powerful but it is only because they do not see the beings who simply allow them to carry on their lives as they wish. In the last book several large groups of humans over stepped the rules and boundaries by quite a bit, and there was a definite response by the protectors known as the teeth and claws. Having attracted the attention of these powerful beings humans everywhere need to be considering their actions as well as which side they really want to be on. This series is full of social and moral questions to consider, as well as being action and adventure packed making it truly one of the best being written at this time.
I have absolutely loved every book in this series so far, as they are filled with scenes that leave my mind spinning with possibilities, and with characters that grow and flourish with every turn of the page. Unfortunately this installment lagged in quite a few departments.
Simon and Meg are heading for a romance possibly… or are they? The relationship and personal development here felt very odd, largely due to Meg doing and saying a lot of stuff that had her character regressing and not at all stepping forward or up. Simon is running around frantic with problems and worries meanwhile Meg is in her own world and mind. In fact, she gets called out on it by a friend:
“You’ve lived in the Courtyard for several months now, and you’ve been learning all kinds of things during that time. So why are you dumber now than you used to be?”
Meg stiffened. “Jester! That’s not a nice thing to say, even as a joke.”
“I’m not joking.”
She studied his face, his eyes, and realized he really wasn’t joking, wasn’t saying something to create a bit of mischief.
This scene, and a few others make me hope that Meg’s steps backwards are very much intentional and will be rectified in future books since the author is clearly aware of her choices. I do not enjoy silly weak characters that make bad choices but are allegedly the ones to lead the way. It’s a personal pet peeve and this kept getting me annoyed in this book unlike past books where Meg was stepping up (not down) and really coming into her own.
Now I’m being picky in this review, absolutely. The thing is this series has set a bar so impossibly high I can barely pick up other fantasy series now because of how beautifully written it is. Not only the artful integration of so many characters and plot lines, but the pull of the story and the demand it always puts on me even in a re-read that I simply must finish it in a single sitting. To walk away would be unthinkable.
This is why it surprised me that I didn’t have that issue with this novel. The overall style and pacing of the writing in this book seemed different and not in a good way. This is one of those things that is hard to define or explain, but it was… off. Normally there is a sense of urgency and anyone trying to speak to me while reading it would be told I couldn’t be interrupted – grave things were happening! The Courtyard residents were in danger! It is truly a series that fully and wholly engulfs me and I love that. In this novel many friendly (and a few not so friendly) gather, and some of the teeth & claws keep watch. There were not twists or unexpected wows as every previous book has had, and at times I found myself bored and just wanting it to be done. The power normally present in the words on the pages just were not there.
My sincere hope is that this is a fluke, or perhaps due to the story developments a necessary switch up in styling that will not be repeated. This tale of all kinds of beings from shifters to elementals, women who can speak prophecy to humans, and everything in between is so wonderful and unique I truly cherish this series and look forward to seeing what is next. Despite my issues with the novel it is absolutely a series I recommend you pick up and read from the beginning. While the weakest of the series this is still a great read, and was enjoyable.
These unique characters and world are some of the most memorable I’ve read, and I hope to find a more pressing, engaging, and otherwise wonderful story in the next installment. While it falls short from the impossibly high bar set in the books previous, this was still a good read overall.