Received to review via Edelweiss
I’ve been quite interested in this one ever since I saw Victoria Schwab talking about it on Twitter. I didn’t even have to know much about it: I was sold from the quotation that apparently sparked (though I haven’t, in fact, read Vicious yet, which was the source).
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
That’s really the core of this book: monstrous humans and human monsters, and the interplay between them, and sometimes how difficult it can be to recognise. It took me a while to get into the world and really understand what was going on — for the first 10% I was a little confused — but I think the worldbuilding works well. All the questions I had initially were answered as I read on; you just have to do a little work as a reader, which is something I actually enjoy, so was very much fine with me.
I really like the concepts underlying this: the way Corsai, Malchai and Sunai are created, their attributes, the way the city is split into two halves. There was a lot of background stuff that I think can be developed a lot more, and I’m excited to read it in future books. There’s a lot of depth to the monsters as-is, too: their limitations, the differences between them, the way they interact. The bonds between the three Sunai are quite different, despite the claims of Leo that they’re monsters, just monsters, just implements of judgement.
The description “Romeo and Juliet + Sin City” was a misleading one, to my mind. There’s little, if any, romance, which is what people automatically think of when they think about Romeo and Juliet. I expected something more like a retelling, which this isn’t so much; it just shares themes — connection between two opposing sides, the splitting of the city, the expectations of family.
Overall, I found this fascinating — and I actually liked it more than A Darker Shade of Magic, which I enjoyed and which I know many people thought couldn’t get much better!