It’s important to me that books make sense for me to enjoy them, but often logic is sacrificed for plot convenience or a “cool” premise. Here are 7 books that I’ve accused of being illogical.
Spindle Fire By Lexa Hillyer
A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.
It all started with the burning of the spindles.
It all started with a curse…
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
From My Review
Spindle Fire has mediocre reviews on Goodreads, and I can understand why. Some of the book is cheesy (the villain lives in a country named La Mort), and much of it doesn’t really make sense—either because it’s completely unexplained or because the given explanation is illogical. But still….
Somehow I managed to look past this, and I was captivated by the plot and by two sisters willing to give up much to help each other.
The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly
A princess with a powerful and dangerous secret must find a way to save her country from ruthless invaders in this exciting debut fantasy, the first novel in a thrilling duology packed with heroism, treachery, magic, and war.
Askia became heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh because of her devotion to her people. But her realm is facing a threat she cannot defeat by sheer will alone. The mad emperor of the Roven Empire has unleashed a horde of invading soldiers to enslave her lands. For months, her warriors have waged a valiant, stealth battle, yet they cannot stop the enemy’s advancement. Running out of time, she sets sail for sun-drenched Vishir, the neighboring land to the south, to seek help from its ruler, Emperor Armaan.
A young woman raised in army camps, Askia is ill-equipped to navigate Vishir’s labyrinthine political games. Her every move sinks her deeper into court intrigues which bewilder and repel her, leaving her vulnerable not only to enemies gathering at Vishir’s gates, but to those behind the palace walls.
And in this glittering court, where secrets are worth more than gold, Askia fears that one false step will expose her true nature. For Askia is a witch gifted with magical abilities—knowledge that could destroy not only her life but her people. As her adversaries draw closer, Askia is forced to make an impossible choice—and no matter what she decides, it may not be enough to prevent Seravesh’s fall.
From My Review
The Frozen Crown promises an epic story of war, magic, and political intrigue as protagonist Princess Askia leaves her northern home to beg an army from her powerful neighbors to win back her throne. While I did enjoy the magic system and some of Askia’s political maneuverings, much of the book was too illogical for my tastes, and I found some of the characterization lacked nuance.
It’s a priority for me that books need to make sense for me to enjoy them, but The Frozen Crown fell flat for me from the first chapter. I was baffled by the idea the protagonist was going to a derelict city for aid, that her own country was only a mile away (but over a whole mountain range!) yet the war was completely contained there, and that the first course of action involved hunting and a ball rather than anything more…pressing. While the book is supposed to be about political intrigue and not really the war itself (which readers never see), the book never hooked me on its logic. Some of the political maneuvers were interesting, and it was fun to watch Askia grow from a short-sighted woman with a temper to someone more cunning, but ultimately the political intrigues never felt that twisty or clever to me, which was a disappointment.
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?
From My Review
Possible Small Spoilers
The problems start at the beginning of the novel, where it becomes immediately obvious the magic in this world isn’t well thought-out. Krysta has written about wanting more logic in fantasy, and the lack of logic is exactly the problem here.
1.) The Dead become monsters when someone sees their skin. But…why? I can accept magic in general, but it just seems ridiculous to me that somehow your skin would know that someone else’s eyeball saw it, and then you’d insta-transform into a raving monster. Also, why do the Dead wear shrouds that can accidentally show their skin? Why has no one invented a body suit?
2.) Wait…no one invented a body suit because the Dead king who has been ruling for centuries doesn’t allow “change.” No widening the streets. No new fashions. No new medicines. No new rules. Except the castle itself is allowed to change because the nobles need more room as more of them are born but none of them leave because they keep getting resurrected. Ok…
(Also, what magic you can perform or what talents you have is determined by your eye color, and all brown-eyed people are Inventors, but they are unilaterally not allowed to invent anything because that is change. I’m sure this large subset of the population loves this.)
3.) This is an inherently unstable political system even if people generally like this Dead king (“May he reign eternal”) because he has to be killed and re-resurrected every once in a while, meaning there are periods, even if only a day here and there, where someone else must be in charge of the country. Also, it seems unrealistic that his family would keep raising him instead of going for their own shot at the throne.
So, really none of this book makes sense, and I could go on. But did I enjoy other aspects of the novel?
The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni
Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.
When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.
Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
But no one has ever survived.
With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.
From My Review
My only explanation for most of the book, and most of the decisions the characters made, was that they were all lying about everything. Some of them must have had different motivations for what they were doing than what they were saying, some of them must know things they weren’t letting on about, etc. I read hoping and praying this was the case and everything would come together in the end. And I think even the author knows logic is an issue because she spends so much time trying to explain things about the Rebel Queen and the world building and the royal family, etc. and make it fit, and yet it never fully does.
Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell
A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.
The sea holds many secrets.
Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.
Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.
From My Review
The book also suffers from lack of logic, one of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t expect characters to act 100% rationally 100% of the time, but I can’t stand when they do obviously stupid things that I can’t imagine making sense to anyone…and the author/narrative voice gives the sense that it’s normal and they’re not behaving illogically at all. My biggest example of this would be a spoiler for the book, but overall it’s surprising that the main characters themselves weren’t murdered for the way they handled their amateur investigation.
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.
An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queensheralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.
From My Review
The fantasy aspect might be the strongest–if you can overlook the completely absurd form of government (and apparently readers can, as has been demonstrated by very popular books like Three Dark Crowns.) I, however, cannot get over the fact there is a country with four queens who each rule a different quadrant, who claim to be acting “together” for the good of Quadara while actually deciding that nearly all the benefits of their quadrant must remain in that quadrant. (For example, only one quadrant can produce food. For some reason, they just give it away to the other three and accept the fact they’re not “allowed” to have things like electricity from the technology quadrant to make farming easier. Why are they not rioting? Why are they not trying to withhold food to get what they want from the other quadrants? What army is enforcing all this?) Other inane rules include not allowing the queens to ever set foot in their quadrant once they ascend the throne (not knowing anything about your quadrant helps you rule better, apparently), and all the queens must live in the same palace for their safety (because we all know the safest thing to do is to put all the most important people in the same place that can be taken out by a single major attack). The set-up of this country is, frankly, ludicrous, and I couldn’t help thinking they basically deserved to have their queens murdered or couped or something so someone could set up a more stable government. Really the most shocking thing is that no one tried to murder all the queens before.
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
From My Review
Possible Small Spoilers
Ostensibly Vika and Nikolai are dueling to the death. Their goal: impress the tsar with their magic and show him they have what it takes to be a royal advisor and also lead a upcoming war. What do they with their magic instead? Decorate St. Petersburg. Now, the book goes out of its way to assure readers that Vika and Nikolai are performing stunning, complex, difficult magic, that it takes enormous strength and power and concentration to do something like paint all the houses on a square or make a water fountain in a river. So, sure, I’ll buy that. However, this takes place in a world where 1) few people believe in or know anything about magic and 2) the tsar started the Crown’s Game because he fears a looming war. So 1) probably no one knows whether painting some houses is complex magic or not and 2) it definitely doesn’t have an immediate use in war. Of course, the book also has to come up with lots of convoluted explanations to help the plot make sense (i.e. no one believes in magic, so the competitors can’t do anything too dangerous or scary). However, this is still stupid because they could have just gone somewhere more isolated, and I think there’s still a way to demonstrate you have warlike abilities that would be more effective than making magical puff pastries. The enchanters’ training exercises that nobody saw were more to the point than the things they choose to do during the actual competition.