My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
This is one of those books I have had on my shelf for awhile now--it needed to be read--so I am grateful that the Buzzword Readathon in January gave me the extra push I needed to finally pick this one up. If you are not aware, this is a 2018 Printz Honor book so it has some literary merit shout outs along with being penned by one of the young adult literature world's (and BookTube's) darlings: Laini Taylor. Needless to say, you can see how I built up a wall around this book: it intimidated me. The size, the prestige, and the fact that I have actually not read a book by Laini Taylor yet on top of everything with knowing how much everyone seems to LOVE her writing. But what would I think?
I am glad this is the first book I elected to pick up by her. I can easily see that her writing is lyrical, and at times breathtaking. As I am a reader that usually gets invested in characters, I love finding authors that take the time to develop characters--both the main and secondary characters. Taylor's characters are complex and unfold slowly over the course of this book. As someone who usually needs to invest in a character to really hook into a book, this was challenging to hook into the story as I needed to first want to get to know Lazzlo than some of the other characters. He is the character that intrigued me the most so I was invested and care about his story arc the most by the end, however.
I elected to experience this book through its audiobook, as with books I find intimidating their audiobooks are an excellent gateway into them. With this audiobook in particular, the voices at times are too similar--you have to be following the story to know who is speaking at times, but even with this I am glad I experienced this as an audiobook. This is a slower paced book at times and therefore at times, a slower paced audiobook. It is a long one, at over 18 hours long, however, I am not one to speed up audiobooks as I choose to listen to the production as it is recorded, this is one I could have easily done so but I would probably have had more issues with the subtlety in them if I had sped it up. I would not recommend it to those who are impatient audiobook listeners—you might get frustrated.
Overall, I found this is an excellent entry into Laini Taylor's writing. I am few days out from completing it and I find that it is sticking with me--that I am thinking about the characters and the ending. I will eventually continue on and finish the second book in the duology, Muse of Nightmares. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to give a high fantasy book a try who is nervous--this is one that while may initially seem intimidating, is not so bad once you start it. Take it from me--I know from experience now.