Because you clearly don’t know what you are missing: Wynter and her father return home from a 5-year jaunt, only the ghosts won’t talk to her and the cats seem anxious. Something is amiss. Also, her childhood pal has a new pal, and that is jealous-making. Then there are a few dozen pages of leisurely world-building and character-meeting, frequently reminding you about the amissness but letting you get your bearings before holyshitdanger and things take off like a shot. I have never BEEN so stressed out.
On account of Wynter’s childhood pal Razi, bastard son of the king, is now being forced onto the throne despite his bastardy and the respective golden not-bastardness of the king’s legitimate son (who is awol [and possibly treasonous]) and everyone in the country is supah-pissed. Especially Razi. And then Razi’s new pal Christopher (who I was half in love with by page 90) is charming and clever and bad at courtly shennanigans and Secretly Very Honorable despite his dubious origins and frequent bedding-of-milkmaids, and he is almost muhhrduhhhred more times than I was comfortable with. There are large, kingdom-sized traumas, and personal traumas which are no less large for being so intimate.
There is also a Machine…
Machines are all alike. You don’t get to meet the Machine in this book, but you get to be VERY AFEARED of it. Also, did I mention that Wynter’s father is dying? With agonizing slowness? And also that Razi has to un-friend her and Christopher for their own safety because his jackass king-papa will do anything to shove him throne-ward? And that several people are stabbed?
I’m doing a poor job of explaining how HIGH the stakes feel, and how very, very nervous I was around every corner, and how MANY, MANY DAMNS I gave about these characters after not very many pages. I am done now and I mostly just want to still be reading it. Humminah humminah book two. *grabby hands*
Cautionary whale: there is a fair bit of hissing. It’s like the defaut communication setting. He hissed, she hissed, the cat hissed. And you know? I don’t even care. It takes some serious excellence to distract me from excessive hissing, and yet, here we are with so many caterpillars.
Nine of them, yo.