My rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: May 7th, 2019
Content Warning: incest (cousins), abuse, violence/gore
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?
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.