Yes, I went with that title, and no, it is not an exaggeration. Because I really cannot express HOW MUCH I FRICKIN LOVED this book! I think this probably the best Lawrence book I’ve read to date (and I always love Lawrence books). I was already enraptured by Red Sister, so I knew I had to read this pronto when it came out- and man was I satisfied with this sequel!
Let’s start with what happens before you even read the book- because I think I owe Mark Lawrence a big thank you for the recap! I’m one of those readers who really doesn’t like in-text “we need to remind you what’s going on in case you’ve forgotten things” conversations- especially cos I usually like to binge series. But if it’s a newer release, I most likely have forgotten things. So this worked brilliantly for me! Especially since it was done in such a lovely way and created intrigue for what was to come- I immediately wanted to know who this Keot fellow was.
The opening itself was nothing short of exquisite. It started from a super emotional point and didn’t loosen its grip on my heart strings for a single second. In fact, it was so good that I read it in one sitting, while I was in the middle of one of the worst reading slumps I’ve had in years. If anything, the reason why this review isn’t longer is because the book is just that good!
It’s beautifully, beautifully written. The only time I paused was to scribble down a particular phrase I loved like “arboreal gloom” or the “headache knifed its way past her forehead” that captured my attention. In between though, there were tiny little messages that I really liked: “My father told me, your weaknesses have more to teach you than your strengths”.
There were many hidden depths to the story, reflected in the striking figure of Nona. What I loved about her depiction in particular was how her black eyes created a sense of her being somewhat primal- from an evolutionary standpoint we’ve developed to have visible whites of the eyes, so that other primates can see where we’re looking and trust us… Nona is an exception and ergo an exceptional character. Lawrence has tapped into this primordial element of humanity and carved a protagonist into someone who feels like a shade of our most feral nature. Her lacking a shadow adds to this, making her unanchored and impossible to pin down. She’s like an inner wildness we all hold and strangely relatable. With our view into her mind, we can witness how misunderstood she is and simultaneously understand why she’s so isolated.
Evidently, I really, really liked Nona, but she’s not the only standout character! When Keot did turn up and was explained it was a *brilliant* addition!!! All the other characters served their purpose and were well drawn- I was particularly rooting for Apple and Kettle in this one. And of course, Brother Pelter cut a chilling figure.
What more is there to say then? I was simply blown away by this book. Just take my bananas already!
Rating: 5/5 bananas
So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!