Well team, it's hard to come down off of Laini. Context has a lot to answer for, in reception... And reading this after Strange wasn't the kindest thing to do to Schwab. When I read the first two books in this trilogy I was completely smitten! I ordered the hardback to own and read because of my confidence I wanted these on my shelf for posterity. I still feel that way. But...I have to acknowledge that after Laini's just-right poetic prose (ranking = spectacular-for-me) I have to change gears for great stories. Schwab tells great stories with spectacular characters. This remains true of Book 3. This review outlines mostly the deviations from the strengths I found in the former two books, but it was still good.
- There are some really great concepts.
- There are brutal losses and grim scenes.
- The pacing didn't feel as tight and some scenes felt choppable There are so many flashbacks. These were late coming, for me, rather than lovely additions. It almost read as though scenes trimmed from an oversized (tighter) Book 1 were slotted into Book 3 as flashbacks. I could've done a few*, but there was a lot of book in the past, centred on characters I should already care about...not be getting to know. It slowed down progress with the characters I already cared about instead of adding a delectable layer, sadly. *There is one flashback not long after halfway that was excellent.
- Similarly, the dialogue wasn't quite as sharp as what I was used to, from Schwab. It was still better than most.
- The time spent with the villain wasn't great for me.
- There is more sensuality in Book 3 than Books 1 and 2, including euphemisms for heavy petting and the lead-up to a sex scene. Could've done without it going so far but nowhere near Maas, for example. The swearing ramps up too, with f-bombs at 10+.
- There were some choices relating to form that didn't feel polished, particularly the overuse of paradoxical aphorisms. Many times opposing statements were placed next to each other, and instead of proving themselves a profound juxtaposition, they were more like a lazy, forced antithesis. Nothing gag-worthy, just not polished, and not the best writing in the trilogy.
- A few times characters' actions were undercut by narrator comment; saying someone "made a clever quip" or "handled X well" interrupted me forming my own conclusions based on what I'd read; telling instead of showing.
The ending dragged a little, although I was very happy with certain string-ties
I loved this series. The final book wasn't as big a bang as the first (maybe she had less time to get these page done), but I'll still be purchasing the set because it was such a good time.