The short: 3.5/5 ✦. A bit of a (lengthy) backward step from the previous book, and too much fluff in an otherwise action-packed, fast-paced novel.
This series has had more ups and downs in terms of consistency than virtually any other book series I’ve read (most start high and crash, or have a slow burn toward greatness). It’s no secret that I really disliked Throne of Glass, had my faith renewed in The Assassin’s Blade and Crown of Midnight, and really enjoyed Heir of Fire. But Queen of Shadows? Kind of a backslide.
First, this novel is entirely too long by half. It’s almost 700 pages, and too much of it is romantic fluff. Now of course, if you like that sort of thing, then you’ll be in sexy heaven. But I was far more interested in . . . everything else. And I was so happy that Rowan and Aelin (a.k.a. Celeana) were platonic in Heir of Fire, and now they’re together and it’s just UGH. It didn’t seem believable, for starters, since he’s hundreds of years old, already knows who his true love was, and is essentially immortal. But of course, when beautiful, perfect, powerful Aelin comes along:
(C’mon, y’all knew that was comin’.)
Chaol has moved on (finally), Dorian is demon-possessed (what a shame), and Aedilon is her cousin (thank goodness), but they’re still all obsessed with Aelin in one way or another, and it got very tiresome (Aelin should’ve called them out on their masculine possessive territorial bullshit WAY more often – but then, of course she wouldn’t). It’s why, again, I appreciated the break from their stories with the B-plot of Manon and Elide. I like seeing the perspective of villains, or at least, villainous characters, and Manon and her Blackbeak witches offered a unique twist on the idea of, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Despite its length, the book is easily readable and keeps up the pace for the most part. The first half is Aelin returning to Rifthold to tie up loose ends with her old master and to gather allies, and the second half is dealing with Demon!Dorian and the king. Naturally, there’s quite a few twists and turns along the way, with the pleasant surprise of Lysandra becoming a female friend to Aelin (one of a mere handful throughout this entire series). And of course, there’s a big bombshell CLIFFHANGER at the end, but that’s to be expected. How else will we keep reading?
All told, I did like this novel, but I wish it was shorter (or at least, cut into two books or something), and I’m not how much more story is left in order to sustain the next two books (hopefully those won’t be nearly as long). Still, I have hopes that the series will pick up the pace again and make strides toward a satisfying conclusion.
(P.S. Blog readers! Apologies for no book or VeggieTales reviews last week. I have a new client [yay!] that threw my schedule off a bit. I’ll be making it up this week with three book reviews and two Veggie ones! Watch this space!)
Header image: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, published September 1st 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens.