This story really gave me emotions about a character that I hadn't felt in a long time. A heroine who is weak and strong at once, who isn't a complete idiot and doesn't just "save the day" with no training at all.... I really loved it.
When we first meet Yelena she is trapped in prison, and I felt such pity for this girl! The author has a true way with words and the way the cell and chains are described I felt like I was right there with her in her suffering (a feat that usually eludes me since I've seen so many horror movies and read so many books that it's hard to feel terror anymore in the fictional universe).
I honestly don't think I've ever read a book before where the main character was as well and truly alone as Yelena. For 3/4 of the book she struggles to survive in this place where absolutely NO ONE has her back and is just waiting for the food taster to die. They even wage bets on whether she will live through the poisons she's given!
The only part I found lacking at all was the love story, and even on that I'm torn. The buildup of tension, knowing Valek cares about her and then wondering if he really does (after he makes her do some kind of crazy training that almost kills her), just added to the story.
But when the tension finally climaxes and Valek reveals his feelings for her and she to him, what came after was just....boring. No "honeymoon syndrome" here folks, just back to business and what lies ahead.
I get it, I really do. Valek and Yelena have a job to do. But for God's sake, I just spent 200 pages watching this unfold and know it was coming, only to get 4 or 5 pages of the actual romance part of it! I wanted more from their story, and after the ending I don't even get the hope of that!
After I finished the book I automatically went to Goodreads to see how everyone felt about the rest of the series, and unfortunately I guess it's in my best interests to just keep this book close to my heart as a favorite and not be disappointed in Yelena by continuing, since apparently she just turns into a whiny, typical "oh that was so close but we knew she would overcome" hero. *Sigh* always with the 2nd book syndrome SMH.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars