[A quick note: This is one I was anticipating for a few months. My copy came from the September Owlcrate box so it has a custom cover and no dust jacket. It’s rather pretty, isn’t it? I wish the book would have lived up to my expetations, though. It was good, it just wasn’t as good as I was hoping.]
“𝐈 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐠𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭. 𝐌𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐝.”—Lyndall Clipstone
When Violetta’s little brother is claimed by the master of Lakesedge, she goes with him. She’s been protecting him all his life. But everything she believed about Lakesedge and its lord is wrong. There’s a dark evil lurking in its waters and she might be the only one capable of saving everyone.
Enemies to lovers, a dark curse, and an unbreakable sibling bond are the backbone for this gothic story, especially ideal for fans of For the Wolf. While it did have a run-of-the-mill YA feel to it, it was an easy to read. Most of the story is held up by Leta and Rowan’s relationship, which is what kept me going. The writing was good, but there were more than a few disappointments that I’ll get into in a moment.
The romance was my favorite aspect of the story. I always love when it takes a more front-and-center role as it did here. But even that fell a little short for me. It developed too quickly and didn’t have the depth I look for in romances. It felt like instant hate to instant like. It had the enemies-to-lovers vibe but only in so much as a condition being met without the layers I prefer. And maybe this is okay for YA, but…the same lack of depth translated directly to each of the characters too. They felt a little one-dimensional. Violeta’s entire purpose in life is to care for and protect her thirteen year old younger brother. She didn’t have any wants or desires? No hobbies? No passions? This makes her feel a little…blah. I honestly think her character would have been an awesome herbalist and it would have added a layer of depth that would have made her more multi-faceted and believable.
As far as world building and plot, it didn’t truly wow me. The world building was rather simple, set mostly in a manor with very little information given to how the magic worked. It was there for the sake of the storyline and nothing more. I picked this up for the promise of gothic. I expected to find a brooding lord lurking in the halls, appearing out of the shadows. Instead, Violeta is endeared to Rowan almost as soon as she comes to the manor. There were a couple of spooky dream scenes in her bedroom, but the gothic aspects just didn’t come across as I’d hoped.
Moreover, the antagonistic force felt like a direct rewrite of the darkness present in “For the Wolf.” So similar, that it removed any feeling of originality for me, right down to Rowan having to cut himself open all over his body and give his blood as tithe. And once he’d done that enough, his blood no longer ran red because he became fully corrupted. Identical concept in For the Wolf. Given that these books were only published a few months apart, I’m chalking it up as coincidence. Had I not known that, I’d think it was a direct copy.
Perhaps a younger audience will overlook these things. I know a few readers who gave this one pretty high ratings. But I also knew a few who had the same complaints as me. So this might be one that you either like or don’t. I’d suggest giving it a try and making up your own mind. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝟑.𝟓/𝟓⭐️