Quick Summary: Be right back, off to dye my hair blue.
Check out the full synopsis here
Laini Taylor scores a home run with this trilogy. It has everything a YA Fantasy novel should have. Thrilling adventure, friends who would cross worlds for each other, spine-tingling romance and epic writing.
The trilogy begins in Prague, and it is safe to say that I have never wanted to go to Prague more than I do now. The essence of the city leaps off the page, which is undoubtedly a testament to Taylor’s clever imagery and personification of the city. It goes to the next level from just describing the physical city itself to really encapsulating its soul and hidden gems. The fantastic writing, however, does not stop at world-building. Interactions between characters, whether it be a conversation or a sideways glance, is full to the brim with intrigue and foreboding, daring you to remember every hidden detail in case it reappears later.
The characters themselves are also well developed, and Taylor does not by any means neglect any of the characters in favour of developing the main protagonist alone. Karou, the blue-haired, enterprising protagonist lives a complicated life on the fringes of Earth and Elsewhere, at the beck and call of a mysterious creature. She is bold and artistic, but has to hide half of her true self from the human world, including her best friend Zuzana (my all time favourite, by the way.)
A significant premise of the novels is observing how the characters deal with pain. Every single main character has a setback which they have to overcome, whether it be grief, loss, madness. Despite being a fantasy novel, with many of the characters being fantastical creatures, the way Taylor writes them is so realistic. We admire and dislike different aspects of their characters, just as we would humans. They feel loneliness and react to difficulty as a human would. They are sometimes selfish, they have flaws.
Another star element of these novels is that while Taylor’s female characters have strength, they are not necessarily strong because they can kick ass. Strength in the female characters in these novels means many things – being able to be vulnerable, being able to stand up and take responsibility when needed, keeping going when their world is falling apart. Sometimes in YA novels, it feels as if authors are scared of portraying women as weak, and so the answer is to show them as physically strong, with no flaws. Taylor does not shy away from showcasing the weaknesses of her characters and uses their fear or loneliness as a catalyst for personal improvements and character arcs.
The plot is strong, with elements of duty, adventure, and some good twists. I would argue that there are stronger plot lines with better and more exciting twists out there, but that actually really didn’t matter in this series. It is almost the case that any denser of a plot would have taken away too much time and space for Taylor to really come into her own on the descriptive side.
Overall, this is a fantasy series you need to read. It is very readable, with interesting and well-developed characters, an intriguing parallel-world setup and beautiful, beautiful writing.
One question which you can answer once you’ve read the series: would you say there is a small case of fridging in here…? Does it count? Let me know what you think! As always, if you’ve read this series, leave any thoughts down in the comments or on our Instagram or Facebook pages!
I would recommend this series for lovers of Cassandra Clare, Sarah J Maas, and Leigh Bardugo. Also, if you’re into epic fantasy and want to make the switch to a more urban or YA fantasy, then this would be a good one to start with!