Verdict: Not good.
I always feel bad for writing two star reviews. Most of the time it's just a book that could do with more work, not a bad author. But I'm going to be bluntly honest. I felt the writing was dull, the world building was flat, and the pace was slow. I’ve read worse, but that doesn’t make this story better.
After Kia eats a sandwich, wanders around, eats another sandwich, visits the shops… eventually, her brother goes missing. He childhood crush insists on helping her, and together they leave everything behind to find him.
Kia is also able to control the threads of time, a gift she must keep hidden. I think Kia stuck to this a little too tightly though, because I completely forgot she had magic for most of the book.
The concepts puzzled me. There were too many ideas, but none of them were used to their best capacity. Is a sentinel the same as a hollow? What is a mahjo? How is that different from the Infinite? Let’s go back to the mahjo thing: is Kia a mahjo, or is Aven a mahjo? Is the ruler a mahjo? Wait a minute, is no one a mahjo?
Then what is a mahjo?
There were some gargoyles. Then the gargoyle bit was over.
Something happened with the sun at one point. I have no idea why but that also turned out to be nothing important.
I never quite understood what the famine place was, and I couldn’t help feel that that whole section could be skipped.
Similar to the concepts, we meet a lot of characters, but we never learn what happens to them. Kia ditches them when they’re no longer of use, leaving their storylines incomplete. I think a bit of character recycling would have helped here. Other people were introduced too late so that the end of the book was top heavy on the info, whereas the adventure to get there felt irrelevant at times.
The book ends in a burst of exposition, a plethora of information thrown at the reader as if trying to smother you with it. A lengthy backstory introduces things that the story didn’t even touch on, and could be a book in itself. It seemed convoluted to me, and I can’t help but noticed Kia's journey could have been avoided if… well, no spoilers. I felt that the motives were a product of the actions rather than the other way around. When Kia asked why, I wanted one of the characters to turn around and say ‘Because otherwise it wouldn’t have been a very good story!’
So that's my opinion on this one. Strip the excess characters and plot down to size, and tone Kia’s gushing over Aven (and instead focus on the missing brother). There needs to be a few more magical moments, a lot more creative lines, and scenes which foreshadow that brain frazzling ending a bit better. There’s a five star book in this, I just don’t think it’s there yet.
Source: Kindle lending library.