Castle of Lies
Thelia isn't in line to inherit the crown, but she's been raised to take power however she can. She's been friends with Princess Corene her whole life, and she's scheming to marry Bayled, the heir to the throne. But her plans must change when an army of elves invades the kingdom. Thelia, her cousin Parsival, and Corene become trapped in the castle. An elf warrior, Sapphire, may be Thelia's only hope of escape, but Sapphire has plans of their own. Meanwhile, an ancient magic is awakening within the castle, with the power to destroy the whole kingdom. Can Thelia find a way to protect her future--and her life?

Castle of Lies Details

TitleCastle of Lies
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 7th, 2019
PublisherCarolrhoda
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, LGBT

Castle of Lies Review

  • Claudie Arseneault
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.Book tw: mentions and threats of rape, violence, disfiguremisia, anti ace/aro/sex work content, incest (cousins), alcoholism and generally lots of drinking, explicit sex.I asked for it because YA castle intrigues with queer teenagers sounded amazing. I was told one character was demisexual (Thelia) so I was super excited to see how that'd play out.Unfortunately, this book doesn't deliver on ... pretty much everything? I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.Book tw: mentions and threats of rape, violence, disfiguremisia, anti ace/aro/sex work content, incest (cousins), alcoholism and generally lots of drinking, explicit sex.I asked for it because YA castle intrigues with queer teenagers sounded amazing. I was told one character was demisexual (Thelia) so I was super excited to see how that'd play out.Unfortunately, this book doesn't deliver on ... pretty much everything? It's not *awful*, but there was really very little to keep me interested. 'Court intrigues' here is synonymous with 'petty teenage romance plots', and it's hard to really dig these characters when they have so little depth. They eventually develop a bit of it, especially Bayled who grows from the most bland love interest into an actual person, but that's ... it. I guess if CASTLE OF LIES was just very standard fantasy tropes mixed with undeveloped characters, I might have given it three stars.I wish that was it, though, but apart from the polyamory, so much of the representation within CASTLE OF LIES is ... let's go with lackluster. The nonbinary character is, of course, the non-human one (the elf). Parsifal hits so many Promiscuous Bisexual flags it's not even funny, and he's only beautiful when people see 'past' his disfigurement. The elves as a whole are exotified constantly and frequently felt like Native caricatures. Then there's Thelia, the demisexual character. I'll keep this short. The ace was of course the most manipulative of them and was described as 'cold' and 'heartless' by others. Yikes. In the first half of the novel, Thelia is established as a generally sex averse person, with the exception of the Baron, with whom she developed attraction. It's a Big Deal that he was the one she felt comfortable kissing. That was all fine, but the characterization flies out the window to ham-fist sexual encounters with Sapphire first (a kiss), then Parsifal (daily sex for comfort!! with her cousin!). Thelia never reflects on how different this is from previous experiences, never questions anything, and it's essentially like she was never previously described as anything close to demisexual or sex averse. It was incredibly off putting to have her identity vanish like this. It read like demisexual people just ... become allosexual, and like sex averseness or sex repulsion are only present when sexual attraction is absent. While I can imagine several stories where this could be respectfully explored, CASTLE OF LIES unfolds without any introspection, except perhaps that Thelia is a better person now that she loves and has sex. Good message there. /sarcasmOverall, CASTLE OF LIES was a bust on all accounts for me, and I'm really disappointed for all the lost potential.
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  • Ashlee » Library In The Country
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 9%I can’t. I just can’t. This is the first book I’ve DNF’d in years – so hey, it gets that award! Typically I’ll strive to stick through them but this one was just so over-the-top and modern sounding.Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free arc of this from NetGalley. It sounded very intriguing, but ultimately I was very disappointed with the directions this book went. And it just ... wasn’t really that great in general either. Honestly I would probably rate this 1.5/5 stars if I could.The plot synopsis sounds so intriguing. But don't expect any legitimate court intrigue. Nope, in this story, the plot is ham-fisted romance with some half-hearted, pedestrian level political scheming and a dash of basic fantasy trop I received a free arc of this from NetGalley. It sounded very intriguing, but ultimately I was very disappointed with the directions this book went. And it just ... wasn’t really that great in general either. Honestly I would probably rate this 1.5/5 stars if I could.The plot synopsis sounds so intriguing. But don't expect any legitimate court intrigue. Nope, in this story, the plot is ham-fisted romance with some half-hearted, pedestrian level political scheming and a dash of basic fantasy tropes.Let's just get into some of the basics:+ The Characters: They're just not well-developed; it's only been a few days and I can barely remember most of their names. And there's too many of them (and too many POVs) to have enough time to dig into all of them. Some of the characters are hardly developed at all. The four POVs we see are Thelia (cousin to the princess, Corene), Parsifal (Thelia's cousin, not related to Corene), Bayled (Corene's love interest-ish), and Sapphire (a non-binary elf). Thelia is scheming (but secretly has a ~good heart~), Parsifal is a mouthy cad, Bayled is Basic Bland Male Love Interest (tm), and Sapphire is warrior conflicted between their feelings for duty and the humans they meet. And that's it. They're never developed beyond that. Forget about Corene -- she ends up being possibly the worst person, but we never see her POV and her actions are just never explained at all. There's some minor characters like the King, Thelia's brother, Nul (Corene's other LI), but they're completely forgettable. They don't contribute anything.+ The Representation: So you're got Parsifal, who's bisexual (and runs afoul of the Depraved Bisexual trope because sure, why not). And then you've got Sapphire, who is non-binary. Their gender identity is explored a tiny bit in the beginning, but that's all. Maybe possibly Thelia is bi/pan, but that's never touched upon at all in any regard.+ The Relationships: Oh, boy. Corene/Bayled is as boring as you can get. Corene/Nul is never explained, never expanded upon, and I honestly don't know why this relationship exists other than to show how good and pure Bayled is and how Corene is just a ~bitch for playing with his feelings. And then there's Thelia/Parsifal+Sapphire. Look, I don't like poly relationships in fiction. I just don't. I can't relate and I've only ever seen it done once in a way that didn't seem forced. Parsifal has been in love with Thelia since forever, but Thelia isn't interested at all -- until 2/3 of the way through the book she decides Parsifal is her true love (and of course they have fantastic chemistry and everything is magical). Plus there's the factor of Sapphire, who has insta-love with Parsifal (though the author did set up the feelings between Sapphire and Thelia). Don't worry though, Thelia/Parsifal+Sapphire is all handwaved with the explanation that it's "all the magic" that's making them attracted to each other. Nevermind that no one else is affected by all of this ... we're just supposed to expect that feelings can be changed/turned on with the flip of a switch.+ The Writing: It's fine from a technical standpoint. I felt like seeing medieval-ish characters saying "mom" and "dad/daddy" sounded weird, especially since the characters aren't children. It just felt out of place.+ The Overall Plot: I mean ... nothing really happens. Thelia wants to rule the kingdom, so she tries her darndest to make it happen. But her plans are spoiled by the elves attacking because ... there's too much magic in the human world. The how or why of this is never explained. So the King decides to send Bayled and future-son-in-law Nul to go fight the elves. But of course, Nul wants to kill Bayled (because ... I don't know why? It's never explained). The elves successfully attack, they capture the kingdom and take everyone prisoner ... yeah, we've seen this all before. The final verdict: There's nothing here in this book that's new or groundbreaking. The LGBTQ representation is questionable. Characters aren't fleshed out (or particularly likeable), motives are never developed in any natural way (if at all), and the plot is just such standard paint-by-the-numbers high fantasy fare. It's a shame, because I do think some of the concepts introduced are interesting (like the goddess and her priestess), but of course none of that is ever expanded upon or explained at all. This sounded like an interesting story, but nothing interesting ever happens.
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  • Kaya
    January 1, 1970
    3 stars!This author shows a LOT of promise! The idea for this is so unique, and I was shocked by a few of the plot twists. However, while I was surprised by a few, most of the twists left something to be desired. The ending was a bit predictable which was rather disappointing. That said, I was so interested I read this in one sitting!I also think that the character development could have been done a bit better. I enjoyed a lot of the characters themselves but never really felt a connection. I lo 3 stars!This author shows a LOT of promise! The idea for this is so unique, and I was shocked by a few of the plot twists. However, while I was surprised by a few, most of the twists left something to be desired. The ending was a bit predictable which was rather disappointing. That said, I was so interested I read this in one sitting!I also think that the character development could have been done a bit better. I enjoyed a lot of the characters themselves but never really felt a connection. I loved the world, it was amazing! But the characters didn't quite fit.I haven't read many books like this but it shares a tiny bit of similarities to Three Dark Crowns!I received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Samhita {Multi Dreamer}⚔
    January 1, 1970
    Arc provided by netgalley in exchange for an honest review I'm always looking for new books to read. One with ideas and concepts no one has ever thought of before. As soon as I heard about the elven detail of this book I knew I definitely wanted to read it. However, as much as I wanted to like this book it just wasn't for me. I was extremely confused with where the story was going and the multiple PoVs made it difficult for me to grasp onto an idea of what the plot was. I have mixed feelings abo Arc provided by netgalley in exchange for an honest review I'm always looking for new books to read. One with ideas and concepts no one has ever thought of before. As soon as I heard about the elven detail of this book I knew I definitely wanted to read it. However, as much as I wanted to like this book it just wasn't for me. I was extremely confused with where the story was going and the multiple PoVs made it difficult for me to grasp onto an idea of what the plot was. I have mixed feelings about the romance and the characters and I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. 2.5/5⭐
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  • Dana-Adriana B.
    January 1, 1970
    I found a bit hard to remember all the names and the relationships between the characters. The plot was nice, fantasy - romance. Thank you Netgalley for this book.
  • Petra
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.After months of putting it off, I finally sat down to write this review. First, let me say how excited I was about this one. I started reading it on the same day I was approved and at first I thought this will be my new favorite book. It had all the things I love: manipulative characters, complicated relationships, court intrigues... and then it became sappy love story? And not an interesting one. I cringed so hard whi I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.After months of putting it off, I finally sat down to write this review. First, let me say how excited I was about this one. I started reading it on the same day I was approved and at first I thought this will be my new favorite book. It had all the things I love: manipulative characters, complicated relationships, court intrigues... and then it became sappy love story? And not an interesting one. I cringed so hard while reading scenes that were supposed to be erotic and I found that I really didn't care about anyone except maybe Thelia and she just became more and more boring. Now, this sounds like I hated the book but all in all I think it was solid read and I will definitely try something else by this author. I wouldn't recommend it to my friends but at the same time I'm not disappointed that I read it. I'm only disappointed that it seemed so promising and different and that it didn't work out for me
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  • Zoë
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Castle of Lies is a young adult high fantasy story that involves themes of political intrigue, romance, and magic. In a lot of ways, Castle of Lies was unexpected and even surprised me. But unfortunately, I found a lot of flaws with this book that could have largely been avoided with more editing.CW: incest, abuse, violence/gore, questionable LGBTQ+ rep. Plot & Setting This story seemed to want to go too many places at once. O I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Castle of Lies is a young adult high fantasy story that involves themes of political intrigue, romance, and magic. In a lot of ways, Castle of Lies was unexpected and even surprised me. But unfortunately, I found a lot of flaws with this book that could have largely been avoided with more editing.
CW: incest, abuse, violence/gore, questionable LGBTQ+ rep.

 Plot & Setting
 This story seemed to want to go too many places at once. On the one hand, this is a political intrigue story. The Holy Kingdom is ruled by a drunkard king who basically bankrupted the whole country. His daughter, Corene, is of marriagable age, but his ward, Bayled, has been promised the throne. Thelia is from a family of nobles, but she grew up alongside princess Corene. Thelia was raised to be a warrior and conspirer by her mother - believing that the one purpose of her life is to become Queen. Bayled seems the perfect path to the throne. But everything gets thrown into chaos when the King reveals he has promised Corene’s hand to a Southern Lord to secure their alliance.
On the other hand, we have the element of the elves and magic. Sapphire is an elf recently promoted to an elite elven fighting group. Their mission is to invade the Holy Kingdom and gain control over an out-of-control wellspring of magic that the humans are completely unaware of.
Once the elves make it to the Holy Kingdom, the storyline of who will be king/queen is largely forgotten about, and a few major questions I had were left unanswered. One of which was about the magic problem in the Holy Kingdom: why was the magic overflowing? Additionally, Corene's engagement to the Southern Lord is a plot point that is completely abandoned, despite the many unanswered questions and contradictions there were. Characters 
The characters in this story I have very mixed feelings about. Honestly? This read a lot like a messed up fantasy version of Love Island. All of the characters are a little bit trashy - and not in a way that's wholly entertaining. Because of the political conspiring, none of them really trust each other. Towards the end of the story, they begin to build some trust, but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for rest.
➤ Thelia - The main character and one of the POV characters. She is definitely fits in the “badass tough girl” fantasy trope. She was trained in martial arts by her mother, but she was also abused by her mother and other members of her family. Despite that, her mother’s training defines her life, and she strives to become queen one day.
➤ Corene - The princess. Corene and Thelia grew up together, and are practically sisters. But when the story starts, Thelia absolutely hates her guts because of an unspeakable thing Corene did to Thelia. I honestly thought Corene was the most pointless character. Of all the characters, she manipulates and uses people the most. But she also sees the least development, and a lot of what she does is left without motivation or explanation.
➤ Bayled - Originally from a kingdom to the North, Bayled’s parents were emissaries to the Holy Kingdom. When they died, the King took Bayled under his wing as his ward. Because of the King’s favor toward Bayled, he has been promised to inherit the throne. Bayled grew up with Thelia and Corene, and is madly in love with Corene. Honestly... Bayled was the most clueless of all the characters. He wasn't my least favorite, but I really wanted to slap him at times - He is entirely unaware of the way Corene and Thelia manipulate him.
➤ Parsifal - Parsifal is from a family of nobles left bankrupt by the King's spending. Parsifal is described as disfigured, and uses his sense of humor about his own looks to get his way with others in court. Parsifal struck me a little bit as a cheap Tyrion knock-off - he is sexually wanton, drinks too much, and makes people laugh. He also deals in secrets, and uses people’s misconceptions about him to his advantage. Of all the characters, I thought Parsifal was the most interesting, and sees the most development throughout the story.
➤ Sapphire - An elf, and the one elvish POV character. Sapphire is non-binary - the elves get the choice to choose their gender at a certain age, and Sapphire never felt completely right as a man or woman. I thought this was an interesting concept that wasn't explored enough. Of all the elves, Sapphire is the most genuine and compassionate - but at some points their naïveté got on my nerves. Their relationship with Thelia and Parsifal is a key part to the story. Romance
 Castle of Lies makes a genuine attempt at LGBTQ+ representation, which we definitely need more of in high fantasy. However, I don’t think it was completely handled the right way. (I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, however, so please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.)
There is a bi character, a non-binary character, and a polyamorous relationship. The bi character unfortunately is written into the stereotype of bi people being “promiscuous” or “perverse”. They don’t really challenge this problem in the story. As for the polyamorous relationship... there is just a huge part of it that really bothered me, that I can't really explain without spoiling the story.
Sapphire is the non-binary character, and I found the concept of this really interesting. However, it isn’t really developed in the story. The author definitely could have used this character as a platform, and I think that opportunity was missed.
Moving away from the LGBTQ+ aspect, there was a particular romance in the story that I found really problematic. Two of the characters that get involved with each other are cousins. Okay, I guess you could argue that in a medieval setting, getting involved with your cousin wasn't so strange. However, we are in 2018 - do we really need to be writing fantasy stories where cousins love each other?? I was also disappointed because without the aspect of the characters being cousins, this romance would have been one of the highlights of the story for me. Writing
 The writing was a big miss for me. There was a lot of potential, but some serious, heavy editing was needed.
One of the major problems was the dialogue. In some parts it's just... so cheesy and cringe-worthy. One of the things I hated the most was the fact the characters refer to their parents as "Mommy/Mom" or "Dad/Daddy". Maybe this is very nit-picky of me, but it just felt... so wrong in this setting.
 "I sit across from Daddy, who ignores me even though he hasn't seen me all week." 
There are also some really bizarre and at times disgusting analogies for certain situations. One example is when one character kisses another, making someone else jealous. The character who kissed uses this sentence to describe their guilt:
 "I am the shit and piss overflowing in the poop garden." 
(Poop garden being the castle's sewer system.) Like.... okay?? Is this visual necessary?? There were numerous instances of very weird analogies like this, and I don't understand their purpose. Are we supposed to laugh? Supposed to feel disgusted? I wasn't sure whether the author wanted us to take the story seriously in instances like this.
At other times, the vivid descriptions worked really well, such as this instance at the beginning, where Thelia's hatred of Corene is being established for the reader:
"Corene isn't made of queen material - never has been. And illustrating my point: she can't even hold her liquor. She worms across her bed in her silk nightgown, spilling wine across the blankets."
This description makes me feel kind of gross - but in a good way because Corene is so miserable. Conclusions
 I think this story had some solid bones. But covering that are a lot of flaws - it's just unfortunate it wasn't edited a little better. I liked the political intrigue, I liked the magic. Heck, I even liked how miserable and trashy the characters were. Some of the characters did see some decent development throughout the story, which I appreciated too. Unfortunately, the things I liked just were enough to outweigh what I didn't like. I don't know if I would continue this series, but I could see myself giving this author another try in the future.
Review also posted on my blog!
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to enjoy this based on the description it sounded so good, but for me it just didn’t do it. I couldn’t connect with the characters, found them unlikeable and didn’t really care what happened to them. It’s confusing at times and I think the characters were confused generally. Sadly not for me couldn’t hold my interest.Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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  • Harker
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 12%Castle intrigue has a certain draw that would make me want to pick up a book. Castle of Lies has a promising plot description and one might think that they would be in for a, as said, an intriguing story of those without power rising up to take it.Unfortunately, what I found were petty, childish machinations couple with writing that was dull enough to make me never want to pick this book up again.This book was not to my taste. It was not enjoyable to read. The writing did not pull me in DNF @ 12%Castle intrigue has a certain draw that would make me want to pick up a book. Castle of Lies has a promising plot description and one might think that they would be in for a, as said, an intriguing story of those without power rising up to take it.Unfortunately, what I found were petty, childish machinations couple with writing that was dull enough to make me never want to pick this book up again.This book was not to my taste. It was not enjoyable to read. The writing did not pull me in and I could not connect with a single character. There was no one that I wanted to know more about, nor a plot thread to grab onto if this indeed turned out to be a plot based story rather than a character driven one (some are and that's what it is).The characters very exceedingly childish, from the way they spoke to the way they acted. It wasn't the fact that they were in their teens and acting appropriately to that age group, it was that they seemed to be absurdly foolish even then. Thelia, the main character, especially, had some notions that were painful to read about. She would go through the things her mother had taught her in order to survive in a world where women were seen as lesser, such as how to "cripple a man without messing up my braid", then in the next moment make sweeping assumptions about how the only thing necessary to change the whole toxic structure of society was her becoming queen. It was baffling to me that she would be built up as having some semblance of preparedness for the world around her but such a lack of clarity regarding real world politics.Whatever political intrigue was hinted at by the premise of this book did not end up written well. The political "intrigue" read like children playing at politics. Like I said earlier, I guessed that the main characters are teens, but their supposed machinations made them read much younger and made it that much harder to take things seriously.There were also some choices in setup that had me staring at the page, such as...the elves live on Magic. That seemed to literally be the name of their land, their island/country/whatever you want to call it. Like...what? And the humans lived on Kingdom? Add to that modern linguistic choices such as "dad", "daddy", and "mom", which took me out of the supposed fantasy setting, and the crafting of this world felt overly simplistic and did nothing to endear me to the book.I couldn't get much further in this book because, for my part, it was incredibly dull to read. I wouldn't recommend it based on the writing style alone, much less the detractions I mentioned above, but add in those and this book really comes down the line. I'm disappointed because castle intrigue, magic, and teens plotting better destinies could have been truly epic.I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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  • Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
    January 1, 1970
    You can find this review and others on my blog shades of paper “I’ve been waiting for these words since the spring, when she buried that dagger in my back and she ruined my one chance at happiness.” I admit I was pretty intrigued to read this book because the premise sounded something quite different from what I’ve been reading lately in fantasy, and I’ve heard it was queer so I had high hopes and went with pretty high expectations, and I have to say my experience reading this novel was one of You can find this review and others on my blog shades of paper “I’ve been waiting for these words since the spring, when she buried that dagger in my back and she ruined my one chance at happiness.” I admit I was pretty intrigued to read this book because the premise sounded something quite different from what I’ve been reading lately in fantasy, and I’ve heard it was queer so I had high hopes and went with pretty high expectations, and I have to say my experience reading this novel was one of the weirdest ones I’ve had in a long time, and overall I was pretty disappointed with how everything was handled.It started off pretty confusing and it took me a while to understand what was going on. Though I think the concept of the story had potential, I didn’t like the outcome, and I feel it needs a lot more editing. I felt quite overwhelmed the first few chapters, because there was a lot of info dump thrown at us, but as I kept reading the book I was expecting to see more things and I found everything super lineal.There was barely any information about the world building and magic system. For the story to be so politically driven and focused on this castle, we barely got any information regarding the society or the world, which was pretty disappointing. “Dearest uncle, […] I hate to bear this sort of news, but I believe your daughter has betrayed you.” I also have to say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the character arcs. Though I thought that part of the story was going to be my favorite, because Castle of Lies was supposed to have a queer cast of characters, everything was so lackluster. Pasrifal was a very stereotypical bisexual, and I don’t think Thelia’s aro/ace representation was well handled. The characters overall seemed pretty underdeveloped, and one dimensional, and the interactions between them were just so weird and awkwardly written that it was hard to believe what was happening. There was also the fact that there was some incest going on throughout the story that had some explicit sex scenes and were pretty uncomfortable to read (I don’t usually mind sex in books, but the fact that these two characters were cousins was not so good), and that romance (along with another one that happened at some point in the novel) came completely out of nowhere and barely had any transgression.Another thing that really bugged me was the constant change of POVs. There were only four perspectives in the story, but it was constantly jumping from one to another. I think we only got two pages into one POV and then suddenly we dive into another, and that frustrated me so much because we barely got to delve into their dynamics and inner monologues.Overall, though this had such an incredible premise and it was supposed to be queer, I was so let down by everything, and there was nothing that could redeem the story for me. The plot was stuck a lot of times, nothing was happening and I got so bored till the point I considered DNFing it, and the characters were so underwhelming, so unfortunately this was a flop for me.TW: incest, threats of rape, alcoholism, violenceI received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t affect my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own. “He’s the only one who knows what I want more than anything: to push Corene out of the way, marry Bayled myself, and the moment the old King kicks off… become the Queen.” Actual rating: 1.5⭐️
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  • Mireille Chartier
    January 1, 1970
    I received the eArc of Castle of Lies  by Kiersi Burkhart through Netgalley. It was downloadable now and since the synopsis had me intrigued, I was really happy to snag a copy of it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but in the end all I can say is I am perplexed.The best way I can describe Castle of Lies is Game of Thrones meets Cruel Intentions meets Fantasia. If you are going like "what the frak", you are about right. I probably should've DNF this book but for some reason, I kept going. There wer I received the eArc of Castle of Lies  by Kiersi Burkhart through Netgalley. It was downloadable now and since the synopsis had me intrigued, I was really happy to snag a copy of it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but in the end all I can say is I am perplexed.The best way I can describe Castle of Lies is Game of Thrones meets Cruel Intentions meets Fantasia. If you are going like "what the frak", you are about right. I probably should've DNF this book but for some reason, I kept going. There were a lot of times that I was pondering what the hell did I just read and as I continued on and it never got any better. I'm going to try my best to not start ranting so apologies in advance. There will be minors spoilers in this review but nothing that ruins the book or gives anything major away.The book started off good, I was legit enjoying the first third of it, but it went downhill from there. If you are looking for a fast paced book full of action, look elsewhere. This book is slow, NO I mean S.L.O.W. There are definitely parts that could've been cut that seem there just for the word count. Also everything is really tropey -the story, the characters - ALL TROPEY!Castle of Lies is told from the perspective of 4 characters:♦ Thelia - trained by her mother to be a fierce warrior. Will stop at nothing to become queen. Cousin to Parsifal and the Princess Corene. I believe she is demisexual, which was different and interesting to read about as I haven't seen a lot of that rep in the past.♦ Parsifal - cousin to Thelia,= which he's been in love with for ever. Bisexual. OK am I the only one that is tired of seeing bisexual portrayed as floozies? They seem to be a lot of times presented in a promiscuous way and it is starting to really bug me. Parsifal is no exception to this, he is shown to live a life of debauchery.♦ Bayled - is kind of the white knight in shining armor. He was taken from his family when he was young and brought to the Holy Kingdom to be the Heir of the King though he has no blood ties to him. In love with the Princess Corene.♦ Sapphire - one of the elves that invades the Holy Kingdom to purge it from magic. Non-binary character. It's actually the first book that I read that has a non-binary character which is nice.For me I felt like all these characters were all flawed and made to be unlikable, though I am not sure if that was the writers intention. I think most of them could've been written better, they all feel under developed. One thing I need to address about Thelia's character that really annoyed me, in the beginning before the invasion of the elves any mention of them would make Thelia break down as in like a full on panic attack where she goes into shock. On several occasions we see this happening  BUT when the elves do get there, Thelia turns into this warrior goddess ready to fight them. All panic attacks forgotten. Is it me or is this unrealistic? I would imagine her reaction to them being there in front of her would only  bring on another panic attack, not a "let's kill the bastards" reaction.There are so many things that I feel are not explained in this book and I think the author probably kept them for the sequels but some of these should've been in the first book or at least hinted to.For instance, the elvish invasion of the kingdom, the elves come in on a quest to eradicate magic which has been around for many many years but all of a sudden is dangerous?!? Why is magic dangerous now, when it's always been present? I don't believe any of it is explained and I found it very confusing. There's also a made to seem important character that disappears in the middle of the book and no one seems to know where he went or why he left. If you are going to make a character abandon everything and leave at least try to hint to where they've gone or what they're doing before the ending of the book.Which leaves us with the magic system...just Ugh! Personally I hated the magic system in this book. It was actually like watching Fantasia. Brooms sweeping and carts rolling in with food. Oh! and did I mention a big ass mouth in the wall that opens and is used as a dustpan. I shit you not, there is an actual mouth with a tongue that eats up dirt... like what the serious frak! For me it didn't work, it wasn't "believable", it came off as childish and silly.This book also is an offender of one of my major pet peeves in fantasy. It's really silly but this bugs me, but I mean it BUGS the hell out of me. I hate when in fantasy books parents are referred to as mom and dad. I don't know why, maybe cause mom and dad appears to be a bit like slang but it takes me out of the story when I see "mom and dad" in fantasy books. I strongly feel it should always be mother and father. There I said it, OUF! I feel better, lol. You can judge me if you want (looking at you Mel!!!).On the positive side, I think Kiersi Burkhart shows promise as a writer. I know it's not her first novel, but it's the first one I read from her and based on the prose of the book I would give her another shot.  There is a lot of diverse representation in this book which is always good, so kuddos to her for including these. It has the first poly relationship I've seen.Like I mentioned before I probably should've DNF this book. It didn't do enough to keep me interested in continuing the series. If you do decide to pick it up I hope you enjoy it more than I did. This is a 1 1/2 star for me.Thank you Carolrhoda Press and Netgalley.  ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tara ✨
    January 1, 1970
    ARC kindly provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewThe synopsis for Castle of Lies intrigued me, I had such high hopes for this book yet I was left feeling indifferent about it all. I had no connection with any of the characters and even though the story had twists and turns galore I struggled to push through to the end.
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  • KayCee K
    January 1, 1970
    Castle of Lies follows Thelia, Parsival, and Corene when the kingdom gets invaded by elves. When they are trapped in the castle that when they meet an elf warrior, Sapphire. I enjoyed the magic in the story. It felt alive, charming & funny. Like the food cart! This story, itself, I do feel that this is a YA that is for older readers. This is a strong character lead book and while I did like the world, magic, I didn't have a favorite character. However, I did really enjoy the author's writing Castle of Lies follows Thelia, Parsival, and Corene when the kingdom gets invaded by elves. When they are trapped in the castle that when they meet an elf warrior, Sapphire. I enjoyed the magic in the story. It felt alive, charming & funny. Like the food cart! This story, itself, I do feel that this is a YA that is for older readers. This is a strong character lead book and while I did like the world, magic, I didn't have a favorite character. However, I did really enjoy the author's writing style, and for that, I will be looking forward to reading more by her. I was given a NetGalley copy to review, this is my honest review.
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  • Izzie
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to come!
  • Becca
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 23%Review to come!
  • K8
    January 1, 1970
    I would never, ever, ever in my life support book burning. But once in a while a book comes along and makes a strong case in favour of it. Castle of Lies is one of them. – Things, do in fact, happen– Nonbinary representation?– Portrays elves as the bastards they are– Characters are either dull or unlikeable– Little to no character growth– Haphazard and lazy worldbuilding– Haphazard and lazy writing style– Literally Corene's entire character– Progression only happens due to consequence and pure I would never, ever, ever in my life support book burning. But once in a while a book comes along and makes a strong case in favour of it. Castle of Lies is one of them. – Things, do in fact, happen– Nonbinary representation?– Portrays elves as the bastards they are– Characters are either dull or unlikeable– Little to no character growth– Haphazard and lazy worldbuilding– Haphazard and lazy writing style– Literally Corene's entire character– Progression only happens due to consequence and pure idiocy– Supposedly an LGBT/queer ensemble cast– Hates common and poor people– Nothing is explained– Nothing is resolvedPlot?Character arcs?Resolution?Research?Coherence?Cohesion?Things happening for a reason and the characters not doing whatever?These are all important parts of a story. Castle of Lies has none of them. It was taxing to read — see: slogging through all the fuckery — and I detested every part of it.The thing with a story—any story, be it told as a movie, television show, book, video game—is that the scenes should support your overall story. Not vice versa: the story should not exist to support one or two scenes, as it does here. As I trudged through Castle of Lies to the end, it was easy to wonder, What, exactly, was the point of all this? Of four main characters, two were of little to no impact. Bayled's arc is simplistic, weak and unnecessary. He learns that Corene — a very obviously sketchy character — is obviously sketchy. He has no personality. Any number of characters could replace his point of view chapters. Sapphire only exists to get uncomfortably attached to the human's they basically treat as dumb pets. Thelia, it seems, is the core of the story. (Parsifal has no character growth and only exists to supplement Thelia's chapters.) She is the only one with both concrete inner and outer goals. Most of the book revolves around her.Unfortunately, Thelia's outer goal is completely flaccid — survive the elf takeover — and her emotional growth is even worse: learn that men aren't awful at all and become a softer, loving person once she accepts dick in her life.Which, more unfortunately, means that the story exists to support the incestuous romance between Thelia and Parsifal, the soft, sweet cousin-zoned cousin Thelia realizes has always been there for her.... If at this point you're not gagging, cringing or running for the hills then congrats! There's probably something wrong with you!Everything about Castle of Lies is a hot, steaming, incestuous load of crap. Which the author loves, by the way. There's a difference between a realistic approach to waste management in a quasi-medieval fantasy land and lovingly describing it at every opportunity: the shit pot Thelia and Parsifal share in the dungeon, the giant shit hole under the castle, the time they jump into the giant shit hole under the castle. The author's fecal fetish shows.The core plot itself shows promise: the high and mighty elves claim the castle from the stupid, stupid humans in order to repair a magical leakage situation. But they're soon revealed as prone to corruption and to stray from their ideals as the humans are. Their good intentions aren't so good.It's a great twist of the expected — if the entire story wasn't an excuse for the yuckiest love story at the core.Instead the book is full of stupid decisions, pointless escape attempts which lead nowhere, and a complete lack of resolution to the main plot. Characters disappear off-page to the Void-of-Insignificance: Nul steals troops and betrays the crown and then just disappears off-page. Do you know why?Because nothing matters!Nothing matters in this book and the author clearly never stopped to think about what she's writing about and the messages she's portraying. The whole thing reeks of a complete lack of reflection or awareness. It reads as amateur, the prose itself is hasty, sloppy and graceless. There's FOUR first person POVs and they're all so lazy and bland it's impossible to tell them apart.And again, what is the author trying to portray here? Did she stop to think about Thelia's character and background at ALL?The book tells that Thelia's mother is the last of a hard people, almost completely wiped out and Thelia's mother endured all sorts of violations for the position of power as Duchess she managed to scrabble. She wanted better for Thelia and taught her to fight, both physically — resulting in a lot of bruises — and to fight for power. It was not a happy childhood. She warned her daughter frequently of the dangers of men and what they did to women. Thelia's mother has experienced the destruction of her people, the attempt of her adoptive family to "tame" her, and a cruel marriage where she was violated and raped.And do you know what the book says about this woman?That she was wrong. Thelia learns to embrace fucking men and now she is so much happier and softer and better as a person! Which isn't a disgusting and repulsive take at all!Nothing is ever said of Thelia's father. She never comes to any realizations about her mother, or how she was raised, or that her father doesn't see her as her own person but as a possession. Her father dies a quick, heroic death, and then no more is said.(Can someone nuke this book out of existence? Please?)The book also deeply hates average, poor and common folk. Everyone main character is in a position of privilege. In fact, they only survive their ordeal because of their status. The regular people are rounded up, caged like cattle, tortured and then...relocated? Maybe? Who knows! Regular people aren't important!Something else that deeply bugs me about this book is that the author lovingly refers to it as her "little queer book" but there are no same-sex couples. The whole question of representation is incredibly sketchy. We get a non-binary character in Sapphire, which is cool, but the rest is a mess. The only character (out of 4+ ""LGBT"" characters) who experiences same-sex attraction is Parsifal, who's bisexual, and he's played as a slutty stereotype. Really, the only reason I can think of to read Castle of Lies is if you're super, super desperate for non-binary representation. Even then, you should know Sapphire's arc ends on a very questionable not.From start to finish, Castle of Lies is a revolting mess.  The writing is bad, the characters are unlikeable or bland,  the romance is disgusting, and the plot is the result of such translucently moronic decisions it makes me want to eat kitchen tile. There's almost no reason to read this book and frankly, there was no reason to publish it. Someone should've stopped the author along the way and told her she can write whatever fecal-fueled fantasy she wants, but some things are meant to be kept to yourself.
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  • Xandra (StarrySkyBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 30% I spent way too much time not caring.... I just have better books to read! (I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review... but I got it from the “read now” section, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.)
  • Shannon (discoverelysian)
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 71%ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewThe concept was good actually, I was interested the very moment I read the blurb. But as I dive into the story, I found that the plot was kinda off. At first, I enjoyed it but it went downhill so fast throughout the book. The author gave a couple of POVs but it lacks the depth of storytelling. I felt like the characters aren't well described so I didn't feel any sympathy or respect to them, not even the tiniest bit.I'm sorry but DNF at 71%ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewThe concept was good actually, I was interested the very moment I read the blurb. But as I dive into the story, I found that the plot was kinda off. At first, I enjoyed it but it went downhill so fast throughout the book. The author gave a couple of POVs but it lacks the depth of storytelling. I felt like the characters aren't well described so I didn't feel any sympathy or respect to them, not even the tiniest bit.I'm sorry but I just can't continue. I tried really hard finishing this book until I got to the part where I fast-read most of the scenes. But in the end, I decided to give up.
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  • Mathilde Paulsen
    January 1, 1970
    [Arc provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.]"You made me consider the meaning of days, when my life was a blur of years"I am, in all honesty, surprised at how much I grew to like this book. In the beginning I struggled to connect with the characters, some of them felt very flat and fell into some stereotypes. But after a while, I got sucked into the plot and the scheming and the relations between the characters. In the end I didn't want to put it down, and now that I have finish [Arc provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.]"You made me consider the meaning of days, when my life was a blur of years"I am, in all honesty, surprised at how much I grew to like this book. In the beginning I struggled to connect with the characters, some of them felt very flat and fell into some stereotypes. But after a while, I got sucked into the plot and the scheming and the relations between the characters. In the end I didn't want to put it down, and now that I have finished it I wish I could read the next book! I am super intrigued by the magic in the book and by where the different characters will end up after the ending of book 1. I feel like most of the main characters turned out being very different from what I first thought in the beginning of the book, which I found to be very fun since it seemed I learned more and more about who they were as opposed to who they pretended to be.When it comes to some of the things that pulls the rating down for me, plot and characters are the main reasons. The plot is a little hard to stay on board with, as it sometimes is a little all over the place, with a lot of characters doing a lot of different things for a lot of different reasons... at the same time. Character-wise I struggled with how some of them fell a little flat. Some were, at least early on, more or less without personality. In my opinion, this got better as the book went on, but it was a big struggle in the beginning. Overall I liked this book, it was fun! And I'd love to read the continuation of the series, if and when it comes out.
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  • Spira-Virgo
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.3 StarsYou know, I read a lot of books from different genres in my life and once in a while I get bored from them. They repeat the same plot, the identical characters and over use tropes and it's nothing unique that I have never seen before. But then comes a book that decides to go a different route and take risks and trying to nudge me into its tale, to be invested and to care. Castle of Lies tries that but like every I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.3 StarsYou know, I read a lot of books from different genres in my life and once in a while I get bored from them. They repeat the same plot, the identical characters and over use tropes and it's nothing unique that I have never seen before. But then comes a book that decides to go a different route and take risks and trying to nudge me into its tale, to be invested and to care. Castle of Lies tries that but like every ambition it doesn't necessarily succeeds. Kiersi Burkhart tries to make Castle of Lies interesting by presenting us with a unique concept of magic being so volatile it springs to life objects from a bucket to a broom and so on and now the characters lives are flipped upside down all the while dealing with elves invading the kingdom. Straight away it begins and ends exactly as you imagine, but because of how it differentiate from other books of the fantasy genre I had to continue reading because I was curious what will happen next and so I got blinded into completing it. The characters are give or take will either infuriates you or you'd end up liking them. They are to me more like a bland mash of carbon clay not that interesting except for Sapphire and Bayled who only kept my attention on the story cause I was worried and cared about them. The world building isn't perfect but captivated my attention but I wish the author worked on it more in order to polish on it. Her writing is simple, easy to read and nothing grandeur to give any remarks about.Overall it's a nice book, try it or don't It is simply my frank opinion on the matter.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars I really do not know how to feel about this book; it kind of seemed like it was just following all of the fantasy novel stereotypes and tropes, and when there was something different, it felt a little forced. I also had trouble liking many of the characters, but I guess the characters don't have to be likable for a book to be good. Overall, I'd say this was just ok; it could have been better.
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  • Sally Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group for the arc of this book.I loved it, it held me from the get go, such a refreshing take on Elves and Magic.It was amazing to read how all the characters developed, and how they each had them own point of views told in the book,
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  • Olivia Wildenstein
    January 1, 1970
    A fantasy reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Although the characters are unlikeable, they are some of the most interesting I’ve read.
  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    Read the review on my blog.
  • Xandra (StarrySkyBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    While reading this book, I discovered one important thing about myself: I like friendships, and if a book can’t even give me that… then what am I even doing here? Castle of Lies features a cast of royalty, near-royalty, adopted royalty, and even some diverse elves, and all of them spent the first half of the book trying to kill each other and just being downright rude and not friendly at all. There was a heck load of back stabbing going on, and I didn’t like it, friends! I am not a backstabby pe While reading this book, I discovered one important thing about myself: I like friendships, and if a book can’t even give me that… then what am I even doing here? Castle of Lies features a cast of royalty, near-royalty, adopted royalty, and even some diverse elves, and all of them spent the first half of the book trying to kill each other and just being downright rude and not friendly at all. There was a heck load of back stabbing going on, and I didn’t like it, friends! I am not a backstabby person! Less than 30 pages in, there had already been several POV changes. It already felt like too many characters, and most of them didn’t have distinct enough personalities for me to differentiate them. At this point, I also didn’t really care about any of the characters. They were all at each others’ throats or trying to back-stab each other, and that not exactly my type of book. I want friendship, I want romance, but I don’t want a story in which all the character have secret plans to ruin each others lives. (I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it.) Things didn’t start to pick up until page 55 or so. And even then… eh. I wasn’t really into this story. Maybe it just wasn’t my type, but I also think that the first half was fairly hard to follow or care about. The ending was okay, but even by then, I did not care much for the characters. A lot of the elements in this book were not what I was looking for in a Fantasy YA. I think that others, who appreciate fast-paced action/arguments and strange kingdoms, might like this book better than I did.
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  • Annette Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    A disappointed and disjointed fantasy. While the political intrigue had some potential, the characters were flat and uninteresting and the writing felt choppy and disjointed. I also struggled to make sense of the magic system throughout the book, it was never really explained or even well established and at times descended to the farcical- a giant mouth in the wall that swallows rubbish for example. None of the characters were likable, and I could not relate to any of them either. I was intrigue A disappointed and disjointed fantasy. While the political intrigue had some potential, the characters were flat and uninteresting and the writing felt choppy and disjointed. I also struggled to make sense of the magic system throughout the book, it was never really explained or even well established and at times descended to the farcical- a giant mouth in the wall that swallows rubbish for example. None of the characters were likable, and I could not relate to any of them either. I was intrigued by the inclusion of a non binary character, but struggled to buy into their relationship with Thelia, especially given the paralyzing fear of elves she displays in the beginning of the book. This evaporates at some point but there is no real explanation for that either. Overall some good ideas but not enough to save the book. I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    I was given an advanced readers copy of "Castle of Lies" by NetGalley for an open an honest review of the book. With that being said, I really wanted to like this book. The synopsis sounded fantastic, and right up my alley - unfortunately the book didn't deliver for me. The book is being marketed as YA (Young Adult) Fiction, and I was honestly SHOCKED by topics brought up. From the beginning of the book there is an overtone of severe alcoholism, and it continues throughout. Other topics that I p I was given an advanced readers copy of "Castle of Lies" by NetGalley for an open an honest review of the book. With that being said, I really wanted to like this book. The synopsis sounded fantastic, and right up my alley - unfortunately the book didn't deliver for me. The book is being marketed as YA (Young Adult) Fiction, and I was honestly SHOCKED by topics brought up. From the beginning of the book there is an overtone of severe alcoholism, and it continues throughout. Other topics that I personally think were quite strong, and descriptive for YA fiction include: detailed sexual encounters, incest, inter-species love, violence, talk of rape, and the list goes on and on. Those are some very heavy themes in my opinion for YA Fiction.On top of the heavy subject matter I found the characters highly impersonal, and unlikable. By the end of it I really couldn't care less about what happened to them. At times things happening in the book were confusing, and not clearly communicated. The plot was slow, and it barely kept my attention. It took me quite some time to finish this book. To be honest I only finished the book, because I was given an ARC otherwise I probably wouldn't have finished it. It was also (besides the heavy themes) a very typical YA, Fantasy, Romance, and the ending was quite predictable. The publish date is set for May 7, 2019 as of now if you're interested in the strong subject matter I spoke of. Or, if you just want to see if I am being harsh you could always check it out for yourself. I however wouldn't recommend it, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it for the targeted age group starting at 13 and going up. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC
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  • Pamela Stennett
    January 1, 1970
    https://iwriteinbooks.wordpress.com/2...Backstabbing, plotting, sword wielding, and magic abound in Castle of Lies, Kiersi Burkhart's forthcoming Young Adult fantasy adventure. Told through four points of view, the story is a race against time that gracefully weaves in elements of acceptance, understanding, and empathy.It took me a little bit to get into this story (I'll explain why in a minute) but the ride was definitely worth the rocky start. The start of the book is a little disjointed. The https://iwriteinbooks.wordpress.com/2...Backstabbing, plotting, sword wielding, and magic abound in Castle of Lies, Kiersi Burkhart's forthcoming Young Adult fantasy adventure. Told through four points of view, the story is a race against time that gracefully weaves in elements of acceptance, understanding, and empathy.It took me a little bit to get into this story (I'll explain why in a minute) but the ride was definitely worth the rocky start. The start of the book is a little disjointed. The story flips through slightly too many points of view, though that's only really a problem in the beginning. By the end, the flipping back and forth creates a far more well-rounded story.The other downside, for me, was that most of the characters were fairly unlikable. The four main story tellers had my heart but everyone else was pretty horrible. I suppose, in a sense, that made cheering for the protagonists that much more likely. All of that said, the positives, outweighed the negatives. There was a strong theme of forgiveness on a larger scale. Yes, there was some personal amend making but the element that captured my heart sat squarely in macro redemption. In a moments when we are so completely incapacitated by large swaths of Hate for entire populations, Burkhart's ability to see goodness in our "enemies" warmed my little soul.
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  • Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.When reading the premise of this story, it sounded so intriguing. Court intrigue, magic, and the promise of a new fantasy world was irresistible. However, the execution was underwhelming, unfortunately. I think the author has promise as her witty dialogue made me laugh at times and the underlying premise was interesting. But, there was a lack of character development, clear and detailed world building, and an engaging I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.When reading the premise of this story, it sounded so intriguing. Court intrigue, magic, and the promise of a new fantasy world was irresistible. However, the execution was underwhelming, unfortunately. I think the author has promise as her witty dialogue made me laugh at times and the underlying premise was interesting. But, there was a lack of character development, clear and detailed world building, and an engaging plot that carried through to the end. It felt stilted and confusing for a majority of the book. The romance was kind of thrown together without much substance, as well.From the synopsis, it seemed like a fantasy world with a splash of romance and a medieval flare and was very different from what the book actually delivered. The book spent more time delving into a three person relationship that had little substance then explaining why the villains were doing what they were doing.The author has promise, but has a long way to go.
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