A monster does not deserve the intimacy of a name
As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.
Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.
An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.
The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…
Will Ember escape the thrall of darkness or will she reign in it?
Warnings: attempted sexual assault, blood use in magic, violence, mentions of genocide
Did you want a book with more Alina-Darkling development than what the Grisha trilogy did? Then this is the book for you. No, really, it is like Grisha, with a few elements from Beauty and the Beast thrown in. Ember arrives in another world, with no knowledge of how she got there, and is told that she is hunted by the tyrannical Crescent Prince of the land, an immortal who has been searching for a power like hers through the centuries. Only thing is, she doesn’t think she has any magic, especially since back in her home world, women weren’t allowed to hold magic, so she is skeptical of her role in saving this and the other worlds. As the plot goes on, the divide between the people of this world, and the aim of the Crescent Prince, seems muddled, and she has to choose between her loyalties.
What Evenfall did good was present the characters in varying shades of morality. For the first half of the book, she gets one part of the story – of the tyranny of restrained magic, of a Prince who hunts her, of the horrors he has committed; then in the second half, she gets the other side of the story – the why of it, without justifying or excusing his actions. Sure, the draw between both of them definitely plays into her impressions of him, but it calls into question the way actions can be presented, and how truth can have different facets and how even your friends can be wrong sometimes. Ember knows, when she comes into her power, that she will be hated alongside Mordecai, if the truth of her got out, yet she puts her trust into the friend she made, and tries to bridge the gap between the two warring parties. The stakes are raised significantly towards the end of the novel to make you nervous about her actions, and well, I wish I could say it all ends well, but it ends in a cliffhanger, so good luck with that!
What was not so great about this book was the glacial pace and the insta-love. The plot is slow, like really really slow, and I was wishing it would hurry up and get over with it in some parts. It goes into way too much detail in some scenes, like one where Ember first meets the mage who had bound her powers, and then goes into a whole paragraph of how her actions were selfish with regards to her daughter, and yes, it did come around in a circle towards the end when applied to the populace as a whole, but that wasn’t apparent then, and it just felt like a waste of the reader’s time! The world-building is unique, and employs different magic systems together, and involves it into the fabric of the plot, but a lot of time is wasted letting us know how Nysa’s festival was and how it works. Especially when, later on, it doesn’t mean much when Ember meets Mordecai, and starts to fall in love with him, which by the way, was a lot of magical insta-love: their similar powers being the thing that draws them together and serving to lay the building block of their relationship which culminates in them confessing their love within a week! A week! Yeah, Mordecai is sexy, hot and will stir the Darkling lovers again, but it could have done with more development that just her getting lost in his unreadable eyes.
Finally, it is a great fantasy book, with unique world-building and a to-die-for romance, but it needs to fix its pacing issues in the next book.
Is it diverse? Not the main characters. But there is one lesbian and one bisexual secondary character.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Boris Kos, via Netgalley.