Narrator: Caitlin Davies
Published by MacMillan Audio
Published on 25 February 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
HOW A HUFFLEPUFF FELL IN LOVE WITH A SLYTHERIN
(the Hufflepuff is me, btw)
To be honest, I never understood why so many of my book loving peers lusted after actual asshole bad guys, like Draco Malfoy, until Alessandra came along. I would despise Alessandra in real life. She’s the complete opposite of me and I’m against almost everything she’s in favour of. However, that makes an extremely compelling, interesting, and conflict-driven character that affects the world around her and drives the plot.
Alessandra’s character is subtly different to other anti-heroes I’ve read before. She’s intelligent and ambitious, which is what makes her entitlement different to other entitled heroines, like Sarah J Maas’ overconfident, dumbass, perfect, and boring wannabe badass female leads like Catwoman and Celeana the assassin who doesn’t kill people. Because while Mass is trying to convince the audience her characters are perfect by showing us over the top action scenes, tragic backstories, and singing their praises over and over while not actually demonstrating them, Levenseller is not trying to sell Alessandra as perfect. I mean, Alessandra IS perfect, in the same way I absolutely worship Ebony from The Tribe as being an ambitious, conniving, cunning queen of my heart.
But Alessandra is also flawed. Not that she’ll ever admit that. But there is a difference between Maas’ entitled bitches and Alessandra, in that Maas isn’t trying to write entitled bitches. That’s just how they come out, because Maas thinks that’s a strong female character. Alessandra never physically fights in this book. She readily uses her words to defend others, or to attack, using her wit and cunning. She’s not an action hero, and that’s part of why I love her.
Speaking of plots! I loved this one. However, the plot twist… that was another thing. If there was one thing I did not like about this book, it was the plot twist. It literally does not make sense. It’s a plot hole disguised as a plot twist. I can’t buy it, I don’t buy it, I don’t believe it. I’m awesome at suspending my disbelief and I loved literally everything else about this novel but that.
A common argument I’m seeing in other reviews is the reader being unable to place WHEN or WHERE this story takes place… uhhhhh that’s because it’s not set in the real world, geniuses, it’s a fucking fantasy novel with a magical man who can walk through walls. It can be a mix of Elizabethan and Ancient Greece with firearms and open homosexuality and early electricity, and you’re just going to have to deal with it, because the author didn’t write us a historically accurate novel. It is in its own time and its own unique place and if you can’t handle that, maybe don’t read fantasy novels as even basic bitch ones like this are obviously too complex for you. Go and sit in the corner before you hurt yourself.
As for the worldbuilding, honestly I didn’t care that it wasn’t more intense. We were never infodumped so that was good. I didn’t care about the other six kingdoms Kallias ruled because the focus was inside the castle, so I didn’t care that we weren’t told about their cultures and people and beliefs. It literally wouldn’t affect anything. What we were provided with was intercultural fashion, which is good because that’s what Alessandra was interested in and would notice, and accents, which she picked up on because she’s smart. Because it was told from her point of view, the worldbuilding that was provided was adequate.
And because I’m a Hufflepuff, I was incredibly satisfied with the ending.