Author: Jay Kristoff

Grade: C

Mia is a sixteen-year old girl with the ability to talk to and control shadows. After losing her family she joins the Red Church, a group that trains super assassins in order to take revenge on those that betrayed her family. Yes, the Arya Stark/House of Black and White vibes were strong with this one.

It’s hard to judge the beginning of a series but this book came so close to being DNF’ed which is something I never do. I managed to finish but it was a struggle at times.

Honestly, I had problems from the beginning. I wasn’t big on the way this was written and from the first chapter with the sex and death parallels pounding you over the head. Like I get it okay? There was a lot of repetition in the writing and again in that opening the Arya Stark stuff… I mean there was even a bit with Mia and her teacher talking about people who name their swords being idiots.

When we actually get to the church it gets a little bit more interesting. I liked a lot of the side characters including Jessamine and Ash. The teachers were interesting. It was like Hogwarts only with sex and the teachers being free to kill the students if they don’t pass the tests. The library and it’s curator where definitely my favorite part but I’m a sucker for libraries so that makes sense.

But aside from the overly flowery writing I think what annoyed me was that it didn’t really gel. Like this is a dark and twisted tale and place and Mia’s supposed to be this badass whose already killed but she’s pretty much like a modern day YA heroine. Heart of gold. Friends with everyone. (Unless they hate her.) Superpowers that she doesn’t understand. Needs to pass these tests to get revenge but totally willing to help others pass ahead of her because she’s just so nice.

And much like (show) Arya it felt like the narrative was going out of it’s way to justify everything she did. But on top of that there were other bits and pieces like the love interest seemed to be upset when she let another student die (I don’t even think this was murder) but buddy, you know where you are and what you had to do to get here. Why is this bugging you now? When Mia does actually let loose it’s mainly because she’s pushed to the breaking point or she needs to in order to save people.

I could see some signs of the “super special snowflake” status dropping toward the end but I don’t know how much stock I put in that for the next book. There’s potential here but considering the writing and the characterization of Mia bothered me most I sincerely doubt I’m going to continue on with this series.

The footnotes. It seems like such a small thing to complain about but I thought they were cute at first and then it just got to be too much and some felt completely unnecessary.

Recommend: Not really. Wait for the series to be complete unless you’re already familiar with the author and like his style of writing.

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