Before I started this book, I feared it would be a repeat of nearly every other fantasy book that has come out lately. I wish I could say I was wrong… but I cannot. This felt uneventful and predictable.
Short recap: Anna, a “Barren” girl, follows her grandmother to Hungary. Anna’s family is part of the Luminate, a rich group and powerful throughout society. The society is controlled by “The Circle”, which is an highly elite group of magic-holders. Anna must choose a side in the battle that is about to begin.
This was one of the most boring fantasy stories I have read. It read like historical fiction with a wee bit o’ magic thrown in for fun. I read more about proper edicate of a lady during the time period and how a woman should be courted by a man of wealth than anything about magic or battles. The talk of magic was thrown around like it was a cold to be caught. It was something everyone had yet nobody really wanted. Perhaps it was simply taken for granted. Regardless, the story was dreadfully uneventful. There was no heart stopping moments of, “OH MY GOSH! WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!” or “GASP!”. Instead, it was about high tea and what dress should be worn for what event. Yawn. The best part of the story itself was the setting. I haven’t read a story set in Hungary so that was interesting, but only partially. I really would have liked the author to expand on the historical impact and what actually lead the story to be set in Hungary other than the MC’s grandmother was from there. Too convenient in my mind. Alas, it did not happen and I was left wondering.
The characters did not feel developed, instead they felt flat and dull. I read no personalities, no flair, no individuality. You could have given every character the same name as they all sounded the same. I struggled to keep everyone straight because they never came alive for me. Anna came across as the most naive and dimwitted character I have read in a long time. She continued to do dumb things and then was shocked when the outcome was not favorable. Surprise, surprise. As such, I was not invested in what she did or what happened to the other characters. This should not come as any surprise but the MC was said to be “a special snowflake” with “special abilities” yet she is “just like everyone else because she doesn’t want to stand out”. Not original at all.
The number one reason I did not like this story: instalove. GAAAAAHHH! I cannot stand instalove! On top of that, Anna goes around kissing every single boy she comes into contact with. How can you tell me Anna has instalove with someone, yet continue to write her flirting and kissing every boy? That does not make sense. This story is set in a time when marriages are arranged for the sake of convenience and money. You cannot expect me to believe Anna behaves the way she does and it is okay when her sister is practically in an arranged marriage for money. That caused me to lose all faith in all aspects of this story. There was zero chemistry and I quickly lost interest in who she was flittering after next. I actually lost all interest in characters and the story but refused to DNF because I really didn’t want to DNF an ARC.
After forcing my way through this terrible story, I wish I had swallowed my pride and put this book down. This was such an unoriginal mashup of every other fantasy story that has been released. The characters were bland, the world building was lackluster, but the only thing that was slightly intriguing about this was the setting, which is why I gave this 2 stars and not 1.5. That was not enough to save this story. I know I will not be picking up the next book in this series.