they’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. and they never will.tricia levenseller
Release Date: February 25th 2020
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult Fiction | High Fantasy | Romance
Page Count: 326
Goodreads Summary: Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it. But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
I am so very far in the minority for this book but I really disliked it. I found it to be lackluster, painfully predictable, and far too slowly paced. I heavily considered DNFing it with 60 pages left but since it was a buddy read, I decided to plunge on. Unfortunately, the last 60 pages didn’t raise it in my opinion.
Firstly, I despised the main character Alessandra. She has the worst case of I’m-Not-Like-Other-Girls that I’ve read in a long time, perhaps ever, right down to the quintessential Other-Women-Just-Don’t-Like-Me bit. She’s insufferable, off-putting, and unlikeable down to the very last pages. I very quickly grew tired of her long descriptions of her clothing that somehow always made all of the other women at court want to copy her. Her hatred of her own sister for simply being obedient and harebrained made me dislike her even more. Her easy dismissal and lack of a core explanation about why she murdered the first boy she fell in love with just because he wanted to break up with her made my stomach churn. She’s easily one of my least favorite characters I’ve ever had to read about.
The male lead, Kallias, was a bit more likeable but I found him to be off-putting in many ways too. The way he promises some of the conquered people some representation to have their voices heard solely so he can murder those who are rebelling against his rule rubbed me the wrong way. His thirst to conquer the entire world doesn’t make sense either. Who does he plan to trade with and keep his people fed and able to pay taxes if he’s just going to conquer the entire world? All he’s going to do is starve his people and make his own country disappear off the face of the earth. However, the shadow ability he has is really cool and I loved learning about it and how it worked. I also liked how understanding he was at times with Alessandra and the way he protected her.
There is no worldbuilding in this book. It’s both confusing and dull at the same time. There were also many different plot lines throughout the book that were too quickly tied up or left loose at the end. One of the parts I was most excited for was the mystery of the Robin Hood and its plot is squashed only halfway in and his identity is truly underwhelming. I was left wondering why it was even included in the book when it added so very little to the storyline. Alessandra’s murderous past is barely touched upon after its extremely long build-up. The big twist at the end of the book was so painfully predictable that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. It was so wholly unbelievable with the absolute poorest explanation to cover the twist.
Overall, this is a book I could’ve happily lived my life out without ever touching. It had so much potential but fell flat for me and produced one of my least favorite characters I’ve ever read about. I found it to be silly, dull, and disappointing all at the same time. And, as someone who has never read Harry Potter, this book being marketed as a “Slytherin romance” according to multiple Goodreads reviews has made me almost not want to read those books ever because of my massive dislike of this.