For most of this season, I’ll be celebrating the books I loved reading this year, but here are four I read that just didn’t work for me.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Thoughts: With a smart, determined protagonist, ties to Greek mythology, and magic that permeates our real world, This Poison Heart has a lot of potential, and I can see why Goodreads users are loving it. Personally, however, I was put off by poor pacing, clunky characterization, and general vagueness about the magic system, and the novel didn’t grip me the way I’d hoped.
The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni
Thoughts: The Prison Healer takes what readers think they know about how YA fantasies work and tries to twist some of the tropes into something new. A protagonist who finds strength in healing, hoping, and helping others, all while keeping her head down and doing what she’s told so she can survive her term in prison adds to the appeal of the story. Unfortunately, the world building, plot, and characterization are extremely illogical, and I couldn’t enjoy the book in the end. The more I thought about it all, the less sense it made. Logic, however, is not a core point most YA readers seem to look for in their books (The Prison Healer has a 4.31 average rating on Goodreads as I type this), so if you’re a YA fantasy fan, it’s likely you’ll love this book even though I didn’t.
The Endless Skies by Shannon Price
Thoughts: I could tell while reading The Endless Skies that this is definitely a book that began with a premise — there are people who can shapeshift between human and flying lion form — and that suspicion was confirmed when I read the acknowledgements and Price said the book began with a dream of a lion/person in a grotto. Unfortunately, I don’t think the story Price built around that premise was particularly interesting, and I struggled for a long time trying to figure out what the fact that there are lion people as the protagonists even added to the book. It’s cool, but it seemed the plot could have been told with ordinary humans in their role. This had potential, and I was excited enough about it that I started reading it on release day, but ultimately I was let down by vague world building and characters who couldn’t capture my interest at all.
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan
Thoughts: These Hollow Vows is being marketed as a pick for readers who enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I think if what you’re looking for is a steamy story featuring a Fae love triangle, with some background plot about feuding courts and a protagonist whose secrets will finally all come to light, These Hollow Vows will work for you. It hits the spot for people who are into the Fae romance fad. Personally, I was hoping for more originality in the story and better writing, and I found the experience of reading this alternately comical and disappointing.