DNF @ p. 112
So, funny story with this ARC. I accidentally requested the sequel before I'd read the first book. It doesn't really match the cover of the first book (how annoying is that, btw? My compulsive self is scREAMING) so I had no way of realizing they were connected. Luckily, I am a compulsive book hoarder and I happened to own a copy of book one. "Hoorah!" I thought to myself. "I can binge-read these fantasy novels and have myself a grand ol' time!"
I picked up THE HAUNTING SEA, eager with anticipation, and then the book cackled menacingly and said, "Foolish Nenia, did you not realize that you were reading Basic Girl YA™? Come, and marvel at my overwrought prose, and watch me fall in love with my own flowery writing at the cost of character development and any actual semblance of plot. Watch in awe as the heroine tells us all how special she is while embarking upon not just a simple love triangle, but a magnificent Love Square™!"
And I screamed and said, "NOOOOOO" but it was already too late. I had agreed to review BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH and there was no escaping from my fate.
Funnily enough, I said in my review of the first book that Talia was such an awful protagonist that I'd rather read the perspective of the villain, Eda. I did not realize that I would get my wish with BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH, which is actually written from Eda's POV! So if you think I was being facetious in my first review... well, I was, but not about that. I actually thought that was a pleasant surprise and quite a daring move on behalf of the author, swapping narrators mid-game.
And Eda is a better narrator!! I was right! I love being right!
To be fair to BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH, it is also a much, much better book than the first, which was awful. Eda has the makings of an interesting character. She's morally ambiguous and ambitious, and it's cool to see her side of the story and how she machinates in her court. The writing is just-- okay, it's really not good. It's so flowery and there are way too many passages when not enough is happening to really engage the reader enough to finish. My one friend who read this book had similar problems with the writing, so I know it wasn't just me who feels this way (whew).
I'm giving this book a generous 1.5 stars because I feel like I'd probably give it a 2 or a 2.5 if I could be bothered to read it to the end. This just smacks too much of Sarah J. Maas or Renee Ahdieh for me to really like it. If you're a fan of those books and other Basic Girl YAs™, you might enjoy this. Otherwise, maybe not. Kudos to this book, though, for being that one book in a thousand that truly is better than its prequel. I only wish that Eda had been the narrator of both books and not just this one.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
1.5 out of 5 stars