I was absolutely hooked from the intro. One of the best openings to a story, in my opinion.
The plot is basically Hades/Persephone meets Caraval. It is not only magical, but mysterious and riveting – exploring so many heart felt topics such as the bond between siblings, sacrifice, and self-acceptance.
Leisl the older “ugly” sister, the overlooked talent, and the backbone of her family. I connected with her and her insecurities/struggles, especially in the beginning. I think you’ll either love the book for that – or disconnect from it entirely. We end up so deep in Leisl’s issues/emotions and I think if you aren’t right there with her emotionally, you’ll find this book a bit boring-especially the last half. Additionally, It isn’t a light read AT ALL. The writing is so rich and full and it honestly reads more like an adult novel, in my opinion (which I loved.) It didn’t feel YA to me in the least. (Not to mention there is adult content.)
I also think this could have been split into two books as the first half and second half differ from each other a great deal. The first half is wild and beautiful and feels like a chase/game. I can’t say much about the second half aside from it focuses 100% on Leisl’s emotional issues and the aftermath of what happens in the first half. It was quite slow and a bit frustrating at times… but I was so connected to Leisl that it hit me in the feels. I almost feel like I should review the first half and second half in two different blocks of this review- but since it is a new release, I’ll let it sit for a while.
THIS IS NOT LIKE THE MOVIE.
Supposedly this is a Labyrinth retelling – or was at least inspired by it. Please do not go into this expecting something even remotely close to Labyrinth. The only thing that seems similar is the description of the Goblin King – but even that isn’t quite the same. When I first read this, I hadn’t seen the movie and didn’t find it lacking. I recently went back and watched the movie and yeah- it’s nothing like it. So save yourself the disappointment and reset your expectations!
Okay, since there have been lots of questions about whether or not there is a sequel, let me clear this up! I asked the author myself (twitter) and she said that there IS a sequel and it IS the continuing story. It is not a novella, nor is it about other characters. And good thing too- because I was pretty much dead inside after that ending and I was freaking out. PHEW.