After reading one particularly intense scene, I found myself conflicted about this book, in that I was both disgusted and turned on at the exact same time. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I had to read over it again to make sure I understood what was happening. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to deprive any future readers of the shock I felt.
If I were to try to explain to someone what I had read, they would think I was depraved for thinking it was kind of awesome. There’s no way I could explain what was happening, and accurately describe the way the magic flowing through the story and around the characters turned this bit of horror into something so intensely beautiful.
Or maybe I am a bit depraved, whatever.
For the most part, I enjoyed reading this book. The characters are very unusual; Ava is a thief who doesn’t know much about her abilities or her past. She has managed to tame her instincts to kill and keeps her hunger at bay by consuming nearly raw meat (as a vegetarian, all the mentions of her eating meat were a little gross). She works for Reist, a mage and the Right Hand of the emperor. He sends her to work with Heyerdar, an elemental, and the Left Hand of the emperor, to investigate the thieves who are attacking the city.
What I didn’t like about the book is how confused I felt while reading about the different characters and their jobs and abilities. Maybe to some extent the confusion was intention because Ava knows very little about the world around her and the people in her life have purposely kept secrets from her. But at the same time, I never felt I fully understood what her job was, or what exactly the mages could do, or the connection between the thieves and the mages and the power of the Words. As I kept reading, more things were revealed, and no one was what they seemed and everyone had an ulterior motive of some sort. The more I learned, the more confused I became. I felt like there was so much more to know about this world, and it was interesting and I wanted to know about it, but everything seemed so vague and rushed.
Much of this was written as if the reader should already have some understanding of this world. I thought maybe this was a book in the middle of a series and that in some earlier book this world had been better explained. As far as I can tell though, this is not part of a series.
Even though I think I would have liked this a lot more if the storyline about thieves and mages had been simplified a bit, and there had been a few less minor characters, I still think this book was plenty hot and sexy and well worth reading.
I really liked the scenes between Ava and Heyerdar. I wish there had been more of that, a lot of more of that. I loved the interaction between the two of them. They were so cute and sarcastic and playful with each other. At first I didn’t like Heyerdar very much. He was too arrogant and crude. I usually like for my “book boyfriends” to be a little bit nicer to the women they’re trying to get into their beds – even if they’re horrible to everyone else. But there’s something about this guy. Despite my usual tastes, I found him appealing – which is exactly what is happening to Ava. This all starts out as something of a business transaction, she’s in love with someone else, and then it turns into something so much more.
When I reached the end of the book, I was not ready to stop reading about these characters, so I guess the author must have done something right.
I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.