I didn’t think I’d be able to finish this book.
The first twenty or so pages were so befuddling and over-wrought with odd word choices that my eyes felt strained in moments. I felt like my brain had been tossed in a boiling soup and smashed around with a spatula.
I pressed on, O reader, I pressed on.
Thank the gods I did.
Either I grew accustomed to Kristoff’s writing style, or it found its rhythm, but eventually my brain stopped working at a high gear and settled down. The world began to make sense, the culture started to kinda smooth out for me, and I finally grew an odd, confused sort of connection with Mia, the protagonist.
The plot eventually folded me into its bloody embrace and I found myself whipping through the pages, intrigued and mortified by both the gore and the sensuality.
I think Kristoff’s books have weak beginnings. I attempted to read Stormdancer a few years ago and tossed it aside after twenty-ish pages because the writing was a slog to get through. The concept was there, but the writing was far too heavy. Nevernight had the same issue in the first chunk, which makes me think I should try Stormdancer again to see if it grows on me, too.
Anyway, I can’t give this book 5 stars because I nearly gave up on it. If you like the idea of a gory, erotic, assassin-style Hogwarts that’s attended by a girl with a shadowcat and a massive chip on her shoulder, then you’ll love this.