[A quick note: If you haven’t read For the Wolf, I tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum. One thing I really love about these books is the covers. The covers are gorgeous. I will reiterate from the first book that I felt deceived. For the Wolf made me think I’d be reading a red-riding hood story. NOPE. The only similar aspect was that the girl who goes into the forest wears a red cloak. That’s where the similarity ends. It was far more Beauty and the Beast than anything. Oh, and there was never any wolf. Just a man, who people call “the wolf” which made me feel cheated. So don’t be deceived by the cover. But if you can get past that, you might enjoy this duology.]
When Neve gets sucked into the shadow realm, she must find a way to rid the world of the five kings once and for all. But what if one of the kings isn’t like the others? What if she finds herself falling in love with him? What if she must kill him to eliminate the others?
Having enjoyed For the Wolf (even though I wasn’t in love with it) I was eager for the next part of the twins’ journey. Especially because of the hint of enemies-to-lovers. Neve and Solmir are enemies and Solmir betrayed Neve at the end of the first book. Now they’re stuck together. Moreover, I was excited to learn about the shadow realm; very little is revealed in FtW. With FtT, half the story takes place within this mysterious, dangerous setting. I’m going to separate my review into three main aspects that stood out: the romance, the world building, and the character development.
I really loved the romance between Red and Emmon in FtW. I was hoping for the same level of connection and enjoyment in FtT. The romance between Neve and Solmir is extremely slow burn, despite a few kisses thrown in for “magic sharing purposes.” I’m all for a slow burn romance, if done correctly. Unfortunately, theirs felt flat, especially compared to Red+Emmon. Neve spends the majority of the plot hating Solmir, even though it’s obvious that he’s developing feelings for her. That’s okay. Hate can crate angst. Yet, I just didn’t feel moved or compelled by their banter and interactions. My heart didn’t get the warm-fuzzies. I was kinda ho-hum about it. I mean...BUMMER! Because this was the aspect I most looked forward to.
Neve’s character arc?? That was GOOD! Thankfully that redeemed some of my disappointment in the romance. She finally faces the result of her decisions from the first book. She grows and learns that she must hold herself accountable for her mistakes. She learns that everything has consequences. And I really liked her decision at the end of the book. Bonus points for a great character arc!!
The world building was COOL! That aspect delivered, too. I was excited to see the shadow realm, and I love the way it was portrayed as a world of grayscale without color, harsh and unforgiving, full of monsters. Neve and Solmir must kill the kings because the shadow realm is falling apart. To do that, one of them must become the vessel to transport their souls to the real world and then die, in order to kill them. Seeing Neve and Solmir travel through the shadow realm, fight various old gods, and gain power was an intriguing aspect. It introduced a forced-proximity trope (which I love).
On the flip side, we got to see more of Red and Emmon as they tried to find a way to bring Neve back home. This sent them on a journey over the sea to the Rylt, where the high priestess lives. But the entire journey was for nothing, since they discovered once there, that there was nothing they could do to help Neve. So…at the end of the day, that felt a little pointless? Would it have been better to scratch most of Red’s POVs? Probably. The story would have moved faster.
Overall, I just found myself bored. I know other readers who really enjoyed this one and gave it a higher star-rating than myself. So?? I guess it’s just a preference thing. But I will say: I set this book down soooo many times, going days between reading it to pick up other books. It didn’t hold my attention. **sad face!!!** It took me MONTHS to finish it. And sometimes I groaned when I realized that after two chapters, I was only a couple percent further along in my reading progress. Yet, when I did pick it up, I was mildly intrigued by the story. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a compelling read for me. Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all.
MY RATING: 3.5/5⭐️