I received this book for free from BookSparks as part of their YA Winter Reading Challenge.
I just want to preface this review by saying that I haven’t read Six of Crows, which everyone has been comparing this book to. Since I haven’t read it, I can’t speak as to how similar this book is to SOC. Personally, I got a tiny bit of an ACOTAR inner circle vibe.
I have to admit that I was pretty confused at the beginning of this book. There was a lot going on and I didn’t quite understand the forging and the dynamic of the houses. But after about 50 pages I slowly started to get it and from then on I really enjoyed the book.
The best part of this book is the diverse cast of characters. There is so much diversity and the author highlights it so well. She showcases the struggles each of the characters face in a nuanced way. I also loved the interactions between the characters and their friendship and blooming romances. So. Cute.
My favorite character is of course, Enrique, the bisexual biracial (half Filipino, half Spanish) historian. As a half Filipino myself, I’m always thrilled to see any Filipino representation and I loved that there was even some Tagalog words. There was one line in particular that I loved: “Enrique muttered something in Tagalog that would have made his grandmother smack him with her slipper” (65). I read this line and thought it was such an accurate Filipino response.
As for the storyline, it is your typical YA book so no surprises there. There wasn’t anything that I haven’t seen before but that’s not a bad thing. I liked that it was historical, as opposed to being a straight up fantasy novel. By adding that historical touch, it allowed the author to comment on the time period and the reality of the “La Belle Epoque” era which I think is super important.
Overall, I enjoyed this diverse fantasy take on historical France and am looking forward to the next book in the series!