“Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.
As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.
This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.”
I made a new book friend! You know what that means, constant book recs and tons of flailing over books. This is the first of the books I could get my hands on that they recommended. They might be starting their own book review blog, if they do I will make sure to share!
So this book is nearly perfect. The plot is so fantastic, but not overly fantasy. The fantasy elements were a mixture of location and magic. The locations came and went. It allowed for different outfits, plots, and fun elements that would have otherwise been too fantasy for me to enjoy. The magic element was boring to me. There weren’t enough limitations. I never worried that they were in any real danger or that there would be any real threat. This is one of my biggest issues with fantasy. This book was no exception. There was no suspense in what would happen. I already knew they would be fine. I didn’t care how they would be fine, since the danger never felt real. This is a genre issue and not an author issue.
The characters were exciting. There was a gay horse. Well, its a bit more complicated than that, but that was how I got iam into it! The character is this overpowered magic person in horse armor. I liked the character, but again overpowered with magic so I was never worried. I liked how the magic was based around their fears and pain, that was fun. It just didn’t go deep enough for me. It was all tell and no show.
None of the romances made any sense. They were not fleshed out enough for me to care about. I was excited that there were queer relationships, but they just weren’t given a lot of page time. One of them was one sentence to introduce it and then bam the next time it was mentioned they were together together despite neither of the characters being out on page. The main romance felt a bit flat, but at least it had a reason to be and had a path to the romance. It felt a bit more fleshed out than the others and it worked for the world. I am so easy to get behind romances that I still was ok with them, just don’t expect a grand romance in this one. The real plot is the fantasy and not the reality.
The only issue that actually upset me or made me lower the score was the villain. Another queer coded villain. Yet another effeminate man villain. The villain in this case changed pronouns and was a drag queen. At first I was excited, because I didn’t know they were a villain and by the end I was so over it. There was a lot of talk of her outfits and referring to her as a drag queen over and over again so the reader wouldn’t forget. I am so over the idea of effeminate men being bad. Please stop. La Sala said in the acknowledgments that Posey was the MC’s view of the most powerful person, which subverted the trope. I’m sorry, subverting a trope by doing the exact same thing but making a note after is not subverting the trope. It just read as another queer coded villain. I expected better. Not to mention there were so many homophobia plot lines that were just so minor and didn’t really do anything. If any of the subverting of the trope had made it onto the page, I would have been ALL FOR IT. Instead it left a bad taste in my mouth. If this were done better, this book would have been perfect.
4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.