Author: Kiersten White
Page Count: 475 pages
Format: Library Hardcover
Genre: YA fantasy
After hearing about this book for what seems like an eternity, I finally decided to pick it up. And in general… It was good, but it could’ve been better.
So, I know this has a strong historical context since this is a gender-bent version of Vlad the Impaler, BUT it didn’t feel like that. For the first 100 pages I had to remind myself that the characters were actual historical figures just different genders. And when I did wrap my head around that, I found it to be kinda boring. Specifically the characters and plot. I felt that the characters took a long time to actually develop. For example, Radu – female Vlad’s brother – sounded like he was twelve years old until over halfway through the book even though years have passed during those pages. I felt that a lot of the characters were stagnant. So, their feelings and actions in the beginning of the book were the same by the end of the book, they were just older.
In certain aspects of it, I could understand why it was done that way, but there were literal scenes where it just didn’t make sense. I felt that the characters were predictable and their growth only happened in the first fifty pages, and then in the last fifty pages. I get that it is a retelling but I don’t think that that should impend for good character growth and plot twist.
As for the plot, I found it repetitive. I think this book could be a hundred pages shorter just because it was the same plot recycled three times in three different scenarios. The jealousy plot was repetitive, the gay character completely avoiding the fact that he is gay was repetitive, the betraying plot was repetitive, the lack of trust was repetitive, the scheming plot was repetitive. I feel like there was so much room for conversation, but instead it was completely brushed aside. It was just this constant repetition of events. For example, close to the end of the book there was an obvious opportunity to talk about the conflict of sexuality and religion, but instead it was completely brushed aside and ignored.
I did like some quotes of the book but I still think that it could’ve been done better. I don’t think it was bad, but I can spot the missed opportunities in certain scenes.
I did however like the conversation of a women’s role during that time period, and also of how far is too far when it comes to wanting power. I think that the main character did have layers to her and I liked that they were all explored, but I did think that there was a lack of growth in her character arc. I did like the dynamic of the characters, I could see how their relationship was developed. I did also like how it smoothed into these three characters having three different paths in life, even though they want to stay together. Plus, the writing was absolutely fabulous. I think that Kiersten White can really capture the reader because her writing is *chefs kiss*
Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, but it definitely could’ve been better.