As a fan of historical fiction I expected to like this book a lot more. All the pieces are there but they never quite joined up into a suspenseful tale. I spoil nothing by saying the killer was revealed way too early in the book and was so stupid that I actually was a bit embarrassed it took so long to catch him. The book also suffered from an over abundance of side plots and too much ultimately pointless “forensic science.” Only the likability of main characters kept it uneasily afloat. I think I will go read The Alienist by Carr again to remind myself of how this book could have been done the right way.
To be fair it does say in the description that McKinley is retelling the story again not that she is revisiting the characters that she wrote in Beauty. Still, I really enjoyed the first book and was maybe a little too eager to hear more about them and what growing up in an enchanted castle would be like (after all 'daughter' is right in the title). So I started off this book disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it is a pretty good book, but Beauty was full of innocence, wonder, and forthright humor and this time the story is all mystic and full of symbolism. I prefer Beauty and there is not enough new here to recommend reading it in addition to that book.
I rarely feel moved to write reviews, but I have to disagree on this one. I feel like the pages of glowing reviews need a voice of dissension. This book was so slow and contrived, the characters so flat and disagreeable that I actually could not even finish it. That is nearly a first for me, but at 10 plus hours in I found myself so completely apathetic to the "thrilling mystery" of Ashley's death that I could not go on. You could say that I turned my eyes away from the beautiful, deathly, sovereignty of life's cruel underbelly or whatever, I think I just gave up on a bad book. In fact, I wish I had given up way sooner.
I loved Honor from the very first book, but as the series goes on David Weber is drifting slowly away from what had made it great. This is the first book where Honor is noticeably being pushed off to the sides of her own series, replaced by interminably explanation of new technology and tactics and a beginning of the slide into the murky, frustrating obsession with politics that sucks whatever joy could have been out of the following books. The parts with Honor are still good enough to make this one worth the listen, however maddeningly short they maybe, but it is the last book I can say that of. If after listening to this book you agree with me that politics and unrestrained techno babble are not as good as compelling characters and plot, I would make this the last in the series you bother with. I wish I had.
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