QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: Sep 1, 2015
I recently finished Queen of Shadows and I wanted to share some thoughts on it. I read the first three books at the beginning of 2015 and I fell in love with them, even though some aspects of them were problematic, and I eagerly awaited the release of Queen of Shadows. Of course between school and life I wasn’t able to finish it until recently even though it was released several months ago–and for many reasons, I was ultimately underwhelmed. I know that Queen of Shadows is a few months old at this point and that it’s already been reviewed to death, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on it.
My first issue is more with Maas’ plotting technique. I think she does a great job keeping readers in suspense by hiding information that the characters know but don’t divulge. This is what made learning Celaena/Aelin’s secrets so fun, because even though we were in her head, we didn’t know the whole story. She creates really complex strategies and plans for the characters in this novel, and I love how cunning they are when they try to figure out how to solve their problems. BUT. Everything always works out for them without a hitch. Even in situations where they are going against all odds, where failure seems certain, they succeed–and they don’t just succeed, but they do it with minimal losses and setbacks. I found myself rolling my eyes whenever characters talked about how they couldn’t believe this plan or that really worked, or when they were being all angsty about the possibility that they would die, because their plans ALWAYS work out. I wish Maas would throw a wrench in things every once in a while to make things interesting. And while she does have some interesting plot twists, everything just fits together much too simply.
That was my biggest problem with the book. My second issue is the direction Rowan and Aelin’s relationship goes in this novel. One of the things I loved about the two of them in Heir of Fire was that they counted on each other and trusted each other wholly and completely, but it didn’t need to be romantic to be such a deep bond. Well, all that character building goes up in flames in this novel, because the two of them finally take the plunge. And it’s… cringey. Maas tries to make it sexy, but it’s just awkward.
Now, all of these problems together would have made this a two star book, if it weren’t for… the WITCHES. Manon Blackbeak is by far the best part of the novel. She develops as a character more than any of the other characters do, and her development is awesome. Every time I reached a Manon or Elide chapter I got excited; yes, even Elide, the new character, who at first made me groan because I thought it was going to be another boring, dumb Sorscha, is totally awesome. There’s a point in the novel where Asterin, Manon’s second, divulges a dark secret to Manon, and I CRIED. Another moment of note was when Manon and Aelin have the best most epic and badass fight scene of the entire series. It was probably my favorite part of this book.
I love the witches so much, and they are the whole reason this book has three stars. If it weren’t for the witches, I probably wouldn’t continue reading this series. I mean, I do want to find out how it all ties together, but… mostly I just want more witch action.