I have…a lot of feelings about this book. I finished it yesterday and I still can’t figure out how to put it all into words.
Ok, I’ll try.
First of, the writing is WOW (I know, I’m a true wordsmith). This is the kind of lyrical, gorgeous prose that transports you into its world and characters. It reminded me a lot of Sara J. Maas’s ACOTAR, except with music instead of painting, and it was magical and beautiful and passionate. I loved absorbing every word of this book, wishing that I could write like that (while knowing that even 10,000 hours or 1,000,000 words of practice wouldn’t be enough). And the German feel of this book was so perfect, I couldn’t get enough of it. And the music – oh the music. I could relate so much to how music affects your soul. I sang opera as a child, shown off in Russian theaters and exhibitions, and music was my life for a long time. This brought back so many memories, and I loved it.
That brings us to the fact that it’s…pretty much ACOTAR (which I liked), but it ends before the grand finale. I’ve never seen Labyrinth, the movie the book is based on, but to me it screamed of Little Red Riding Hood (which I’m sure was intended). Here we get an incredible beginning, and haunting and heartbreaking follow up, and then it kind of just ends. Not even on a cliffhanger. I know there’s a book 2 that’s supposed to be the sequel, and I get where it’s going, but I really wanted there to be something to get me excited for book 2, and the ending of book 1 wasn’t it. However, the book 2 preview? Got me hooked like a fish on a reel.
Now there was one thing that bothered me: the word plain used to describe the MC’s looks. And it was used over, and over, and over. WTF is that even supposed to mean? No one is ‘just plain’. You know what’s plain? A white wall. You know what’s not plain? Literally any person ever. Go to Google images and search ‘plain girl’ and you’ll get what I mean. This is how I began picturing Liesl because I kept getting a word that made no sense to describe her:
Plain -could- mean a lot of things. Plain could mean not wearing makeup or adornments, sure. Plain could be ordinary, sure. But here, plain was something only Liesl had. Something she thought made her worthless. Apparently, every other girl in her village was something else, while she was plain. Any teenage girl reading this book could think it’s her, and this is the worst kind of image to portray (especially since NOT every girl is a music savant). I get that the message is ‘beauty is on the inside’ but it didn’t have to be so critical of anyone who is not absolutely gorgeous. Ok, rant done.
Overall, I did enjoy this story and I LOVED the prose. I’ll be picking up book 2 eventually, mostly to see what happens to Liesl’s brother. He was the best character in the book and I can’t wait to find out what happened with him. I would recommend it to readers who love the edgy upper-YA fairy tales like ACOTAR with a slight twist.
Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a chance to read and review this book.