I had to sit with this novella for a while after finishing; mainly to make sense of how I felt about it, or if I even understood it enough to form a valid rating. But ultimately, that was the problem I had with this story. The premise sounded great, but ultimately the quest isn’t all that inspiring, and many times I had to re-read sentences to understand what was happening, just for the author to have moved on to another topic in the next sentence, making for jumbled paragraphs and a reading experience where I never once felt really enmeshed in the story. And while the book deservedly gets praise for how it blends traditional epic fantasy prose with modern day vernacular, I personally found the shifts to be rather jarring. It’s clear that the author set out to craft a really vivid and rich world for the reader to get swept up in, only to make it really uninviting by burying it in a murky and obscure narrative.
I really wanted to like this novella more than I did, so it’s possible that I just didn’t read this at the right time, or with the correct amount of focus, but I also don’t have much of a desire to reread it, either. I’ll still read the next novella in this series, but now my expectations won’t be as high, either, for better or worse. Which is why this first novella gets a confusing 2.5 stars from me. The writing is great, but I can’t say if I really understood why certain things happened, or why some characters behaved the way they did, or why it was written the way it was, either. It’s exceedingly hard to enjoy a book that leaves me so confused at the end, but it does happen sometimes! Unfortunately, this was not one of those instances.
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