I avoided all spoilers. I had no idea what the story was about, or who the major players were - just that there was a strong female lead.
This story isn't quite a thriller - there's too much politics for that. But it was a pleasant, engaging set of intertwined plots. And the narrator was pretty much perfect for the part.
One - this book ends in almost a cliffhanger; there's no resolution.
Two - at the end, it gets suddenly a little creepy and a little dark, and needs a trigger warning.*
Three - from the author's website, it looks like it's book one in a series. Book 2 is due out in hard cover sometime next month.
With all of that out of the way, I loved this world. I loved the protagonist, I loved that it's a fantasy world that's absolutely NOT elves and orcs. I appreciated the language and the plot twists, even though I called them fairly early.
adding some space for trigger warnings, which are also a lot spoiler:
*You'll probably catch on through the scenes with the visiting dignitaries that one of the king's daughters is being pawed at by members of a court described as "debauched". For a brief, sickening, awful few minutes, it seems that a Princess is being traded in marriage to a child molesting viceroy. I almost stopped listening. child trafficking, complicit family members, etc. I stopped reading game of thrones, because I don't need that stuff in my fiction, right? But the heroine literally jumps in and stops the proceedings, at the risk of her position at court, and the story is redeemed. Mostly. I still don't know that I feel the need to waft child rape and molestation through my otherwise enjoyable fantasy stories - "realism" aside.
This is a lovely, heartbreaking, awkward book - perfect for the story it tells. It's worth hanging in and listening to the interview with the author at the end.
I love the characters, the reader, the pacing. Deborah Harkness writes with the clarity of somebody who knows a city and loves it; the campus of Oxford is as much a character in the story as Diana or Matthew. The story is witchy and full of vampires without being cliche or trite.
It took me a little while to catch on to the time shifts - pay attention to those. Once the rhythm and cadence of the story catches you, it's easy to see the characters in their world. I listen to very few books a second time, and would seriously consider relistening to Night Circus.
If you're a history, sociology or anthropology nerd, this book is a fun, light listen, in the vein of the $64 Dollar Tomato. I think the first section, on the evolution of the modern apple, is the most fascinating of the book.
I'm a big fan of Scott Brick's narration - he's easily one of my favorite male narrators.
We've enjoyed everything we've heard from Kelley Armstrong. Her characters are interesting and quirky, and we look forward to future releases.
Not all "brain candy" books are paced right to be engaging as audiobooks - either they move too fast and you end up feeling like the main characters are skating through their lives, or too slowly and you get distracted by your own thoughts instead of listening to them. Kelley Armstrong's books "work" in this format.
I really enjoy the Dark Swan series overall. Eugenie will frustrate the heck out of you, but a heroine that isn't always right is a refreshing perspective.
I didn't like this one.
there's a formula out there right now that is "woman living cloistered/cosseted/protected/privileged life finds out husband is cheating. woman leaves. woman realizes she wasn't happy in said c/c/p/p life. unexpected stuff happens. new boy arrives. girl falls for boy. they live happily ever after." Some of them are charming. I wasn't charmed by Just Breathe.
The "mystery" subplot was under explored. The teenage step-daughter-to-be is half-heartedly developed and the climax of her storyline happens so fast it doesn't feel real to the reader.
Simply put, the story chafed. it was brain candy at best, but I've enjoyed other brain candy 100% more.
The narrator is perfect for this book, and I'm a HUGE fan of Yglesias's narrative voice. His characters are likeable and human, flawed and petty and gorgeous, and I'm completely taken with the story, as heartbreaking as it is.
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