My rating: 2 of 5 stars ★★
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Source: Author, through Instagram
Nerissa is the heiress of the kingdom of Chiyo. Every year, her kingdom hosts a masked gala to celebrate a failed attack on their kingdom that occurred a few years ago. Nerissa plans to attend dressed as herself at the beginning of the night, then change dresses (and masks) and re-attend as a stranger in the crowd. Everything goes as planned until the night turns violent.
So this might be one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations. I have a hard time with the fantasy genre. Some fantasies have a way of surprising me, but in general, I get tired of reading them about halfway through. When this happens, all the historical fiction books on my shelves start calling to me in eerie siren voices. And I have to force myself to ignore them.
I mean, I like fantasies that are rooted in the real world (a la “Daughter of Smoke & Bone” or “The Bear and the Nightingale“). But elaborate, new worlds where crystals emit magic and swords have people-names is usually where I check out.
I also had a hard time with the (low-key keyboard-smash) names. There were a lot of characters, many with relatively similar names.
To watch [Jin] now, it was a bit hard to understand why Hania had chosen him. Compared to Haku, Hania, and Einar, he seemed impulsive, capricious, and even a slight bit childish. However, that playful, easygoing attitude belied a cunning and shockingly astute mind (160).
About half way through, I gave up trying to keep them all sorted.
I wanted to love this book. I mean, look at the cover. It’s gorgeous. I can see how someone might enjoy it and be swept up in the adventure of the story. But when I have to force myself to keep reading a book and start skimming by the end, I know something fell short for me.