Published September 11th 2018 by Delacorte Press
Sigh. Sigh again. Triple Sigh.
This was my first Colleen Houck book, and I have to say I don’t think I will be reading any of her others unless you can convince me otherwise. This book, for all its gorgeous cover and cool synopsis, was disappointing.
This book mostly follows Ember, where it should have followed Jack, to be honest. He was the more interesting of the pair. Ember is a witch living in the mortal world whereas Jack is a “lantern” one meant to watch portal to the Otherworld and banish monsters that happen to cross over. When Ember decides she wants to be a total fool and go to the Otherworld, she enlists the help of a vampire, whom she follows quite blindly, and Jack follows to save her.
This is where it should have turned kinda awesome. Instead, it turned into some weirdo steampunk version of Oz with some legendary creatures lurking behind the scenes. But nothing truly happens that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was just…meh. The vampire, Dev, turns into a quick love interest so pile him onto Jack and Finney, Ember’s best friend and we have some distracting, useless entanglements. Ember doesn’t do much of consequence. For being a witch, I expected a bit more from her, but she seemed like a defenseless dolt, traipsing around and not being able to decide what body type she is. I mean, Houck first suggests that she is not as think as other girls and then chooses to describe her a waif and petite girl only to go back at the end and have the antagonist call her plump. I am so confused. IS SHE A STICK OR AN APPLE????
I read this pretty quickly because I skimmed over a lot of the other POV’s, but I didn’t miss much. Ember was flat and boring whereas Jack was interesting and driven so I could not see what he saw in her at all. There was no tension, and the world was jarring. I needed more enemies, more near-death situations and certainly not a ball and some lame skyship. GIVE ME STAKES. There were no stakes. That isn’t a vampire joke either.
Colleen wrapped it up. I will give her that. I was afraid I’d have to suffer through Ember again to read a second book. I’d read it mainly for Jack. Overall this book was frustrating because it had potential. At least I didn’t throw this one across the bed. I’m looking at you, Mirage.
Expected publication: March 12th 2019 by Delacorte
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
So this was so-so for me. I wanted to like it, but some things kept me teetering.
This story follows Rhea who is plagued by nightmares both while asleep and awake. When a strange boy who only seems to exist in the dark appears, she is thrust into a game where she soon discovers who she truly is.
This book is pitched with comparisons to Pan’s Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies of all time so I had some high expectations. As I did not get Pan vibes, I did get some Mirrormask, Oz, and Alice vibes instead. I can see some Hazelwood in there, but I chose to ignore it because that book was a major disappointment for me and I wanted to separate that book from this one.
What I did not like was the flowery writing. The descriptions were a bit extra and took me out of the book often. I found myself huffing and rolling my eyes because some of them just didn’t make a lot of sense to me and often dragged out without ending for an entire paragraph. I felt breathless after reading it. Not in a good way. In a way that was kind of like choking on a piece of popcorn.
What kept me reading was the expectation of magic and some cool ass beasts, but that didn’t come either. And the intrigue and tension weren’t there. I think that this may play out better as a movie and I would watch it if they did adapt it.
I did like Rhea and her family. The love gave me the feels. There was no real romantic love, though I the hint of it was there. It was a quick read with a tied up ending that will leave you satisfied.