I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book and its content so I’ll try to be as subjective as possible. Bottom line, is it bad? No. I think it’s complicated, too dark, and could have drawn more strength in other areas, but when i shines, it truly shines.
Auren isn’t like most leading ladies in dark fantasy. After being a prisoner for a decade and being brain washed, I was able to understand and sympathize with her. Yes, she is physically weak and naive, but it was never her fault and I always supported her because she tries. Her story is just beginning and while she isn’t seen as anything other than a prize, I do think she has a ton of development ahead of her.
The world building is very engaging and I wanted to sped a lot more time with it, especially when the Fae element came into it. There is so much to be explored in this realm and I would hope it plays a major part in future books.
As far as story and pacing, it didn’t go quite the way I imagined. All things considered, this was a really slow book that focused more on making the reader understand Auren and how she thinks above anything else.
Now comes the other stuff. The dark stuff. There is a ton of shock value in GILD. Literally one male is decent, and the others are disgusting. Three lines in this book made me physically cringe. Every woman is treated horribly. There is an assault scene in here that served a very loose purpose.
And the thing is, none of it was needed. It rarely advanced the plot, which is the only time shocking elements ought to be used. I understand that characters will act how they will act and this a dark fantasy romance. But I don’t think the execution of these particular scenes were quite as impactful as Kennedy hoped for.
So does that make the book bad? No. Honestly, aside from that final brutal scene, it was tamer than I expected. I’d imagine that Auren has an incredible journey of self-discovery ahead. But the slower pace and gratuitous content do make for a bit of a challenging read. This is not a bad book and I am not going to shame the author or the fandom. Everyone likes different things, and I can see why so many readers love this book. I’m even considering continuing with the series. But it may not be for everyone.