I had such high hopes for this book & really wanted to enjoy it; all the evidence suggested that this would be a book that I would love, but unfortunately the evidence lied.
This review contains some small spoilers.
This is one of the few library books that I have borrowed that I won’t feel sad about returning; absolutely everything suggested that I would like this book, it’s Asian YA, has magic, monsters, a Fairy Queen, a spooky wood & loads of Chinese influence, but somehow it still managed to fall short.
I was enjoying the book during the first half; I liked that the two main characters were gay, loved the atmosphere & idea of the academy & was really excited about venturing into yet another spooky, magical wood. But, when I got to just over half-way through I was confused about why the characters were still so far into the wood – shouldn’t the build up be ending by around half way? Shouldn’t the main plot be taking hold? I was full of so many sighs. There was also a scene where wolves attacked the group & I just didn’t see the point in it (I also got really sad about wolves being portrayed in such a negative away), or the point in meeting the Green Witch in the woods – the woods just felt reaaally dragged out.
The main plot seemed to fall into the last quarter of the book & felt very rushed. If I hadn’t been reading a physical copy of the book I would have been really excited by the sudden plot twist that was announced when the group reached the Fairy Queen’s palace, but because I could see that there wasn’t much of the book left I was just a bit confused. The task that the Fairy Queen set the group was rushed & wasn’t given nearly enough page space… then there was an additional plot twist when they returned to the Fairy Queen’s castle, which just confused me even more & left me bored. If Malinda wanted such a long build-up then she should have written a much longer main event as well; a main event full of magic & action & danger! Instead, all of that was sucked up into the build-up & the ending was just a huge flop.
On GoodReads I’ve seen that a lot of people have said that Ash, the sequel (that was released first) is much better & that a lot of Ash readers were let down by this prequel so I may give Ash a chance at some point, but it’ll be a long way in the future. I’m so disappointed, I really wanted to enjoy this book!!