Ever since his mother was killed, seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck has had one goal–to see illegal users of magic brought to justice. People who carelessly use extradimensional magic for their own self-interest, without a care to the damage it does to society or those around them, deserve to be punished as far as Cayder is concerned. Because magic always has a price. So when Cayder lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apprentice under a premier public defender, he takes it. If he can learn all the tricks of public defense, the better he’ll be able to dismantle defense arguments when he’s a prosecutor. Then he’ll finally be able to make sure justice is served. But when he meets the three criminals he’s supposed to defend, it no longer seems so black and white. They’re teenagers, like him, and their stories are . . . complicated, like his. Vardean, the prison where Cayder’s new clients are incarcerated, also happens to be at the very heart of the horrible tear in the veil between their world and another dimension–where all magic comes from.
I really enjoyed both Four Dead Queens and The Vanishing Half, so I was looking forward to her next book! And when I found out it was about a prison that holds those who have illegally used magic, I was even more eager to read it. I was ready for the dark and twisty world that is a lot more morally gray than it seems.
I really, really, really hate to admit it, but I didn’t love this book. I just don’t think it was for me. At lot of aspects sort of just felt there to me, I think.
At first, I was really intrigued by the world and the magic system and everything that it was made of. But, as the book went on, I found it less enchanting and mysterious and it sort of just felt like a fantasy world. I wanted more out of it. I felt like there was the potential for there to be a whole lot more to the magic, to the veil, to the everything that makes up the world, but it just didn’t go in that direction. I wanted more out of it.
I enjoyed the characters, but they also irritated me a bit. I wanted more out of them as well. There just sort of there. I wanted to like them, and I did like them to some extent, but I just wasn’t invested in them.
I also really, really wanted some of them to be queer. It’s not an unqueer book, there’s a small mention of a f/f relationship of side characters, but I got such queer vibes from basically all the main characters. And I really, really wanted the romantic pairings to be queer. And I knew that it probably wasn’t going to be queer, but I wanted it anyway! It was very weird. Of course, this is just a personal thing.
I think one of my biggest qualms with this book is that it does such a great job setting up the mystery, in setting up the plot into looking twisty and dark and mysterious, but then it just isn’t. When reveals happen, it just made the book seem like a straight line. Instead of the path actually being twisty, it was just boxes that could be pushed out of the way. I didn’t become more invested as more information was revealed. I think this is where I wanted more out of basically every aspect of this book. It’s fantastic at setting everything up, but I just didn’t love what the result of that setting up.
Overall, I don’t think this was a bad book, I think it just wasn’t for me. The writing was very good, and the characters are enjoyable. The world is actually pretty interesting. There were just things that I didn’t particularly enjoy. But, I do hope that other people who read this book do love it!