DNF @ 36%
I should have trusted my gut with this one. I'm never drawn to Anastasia retellings, but I wanted to support this author after the appalling way she was treated last year and decided to give this book a try.
Reader, I shouldn't have.
Is this a terrible book? No, and it's a book with plenty of good ideas, but it's just so tropey and the characters are so dull that I was incredibly bored while reading this. It's an easy enough read so I could have pushed my way through this, but I want to be reading books I actually enjoy and, sadly, I wasn't enjoying this one.
Ana makes dumb decisions all the time that put her and her friend, May, at risk and it's infuriating. When she stands up for another Affinite at the market who's getting punished for giving May a cake for no money, she literally has money in her pocket that she could have handed over to avoid causing a scene. Instead she uses her magic to start a fight, thus revealing herself as another Affinite, which leads to May getting taken. I'm all for characters making mistakes, but Ana doesn't seem to learn from hers? She just uses her blood magic and then has a 'woe is me, I'm a monster' moment and it's super boring and repetitive. Ramson isn't much better. As someone who's supposed to be a savvy conman, he gets duped pretty easily, and to be honest neither he nor Ana are particularly likeable. Especially considering Ramson is happy to plan selling Ana into slavery even though he only escapes from prison with her help.
I love a morally grey character, but Ramson was really quite horrid yet written in the kind of heart-eyes way that makes it obvious his and Ana's relationship is going to develop into some kind of romance at some point. Although admittedly I didn't stick around long enough to know that for sure. By all means give me a morally questionable character, but don't tell me how dreamy he is like I should be swooning over someone who's involved in human trafficking.
I do appreciate the themes that the author wanted to explore, and her love for this book is clear, but it's not for me.
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