This is unmistakably a Michelle Sagara West book, with all the good and bad that entails. There's the prose, which is lovely and flowing and almost poetic. (Sometimes too much so, alas; there's a scene at the end in which the characters talk in delicate, half-understood phrases for page after page after page, which I would have appreciated a great deal more if it hadn't been while they were standing in a burning house. There's a time for poetry and a time to get on with the action, you know? [I know. It's not actually burning. It still felt off to me.]
) There's the heroine, a woman of great power than she doesn't understand but is still determined, despite the fears of all around her, to use only for good. (I think Emma's the best of that archetype so far, actually; I find her more genuine and likeable than Jewel or Kaylin.) There's the depiction of building a found family of friends. There's the focus on
friendship, rather than the romances that so litter the YA genre these days. That's not to say there's no romance, but it takes a back-row seat, and I appreciate it.
But there's also the fact that no one tells anyone anything
, which is a trope I would really have been happy to leave behind in Elantra. Here, Sagara even manages the trick of writing from the viewpoint of one of the characters who has all the cards without giving anything away. It would be impressive if it wasn't so infuriating.
I won't keep reading because of the mysteries. I'll keep reading because I like Emma and her friends, and I want to watch them bicker and grow and guard each others' backs and love each other in the best platonic way.