Review – Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

This was a difficult book to rate. It has a lot of positive points, but also quite a few negative ones for me that threw me off a bit. I did overall still enjoy it and am excited for the sequel, so it will be 3 stars for me.

Tavia Syn lost her mother from the magic sickness. So now Tavia is working on the streets as a busker, selling illegal magic so that when she is 18, she can get out of the city and live her life as she wants it. Wesley is an old friend of Tavia, but also the underboss of the city Creije, so basically Tavia’s boss. When the Kingpin (magic maffia boss of the country) is pushing new magic through the buskers, things seem to go wrong with it. The Kingpin wants to take down the legal system to take it over himself and remake the country to his views. Saxony is Tavia’s best friend. When Tavia tells her of the new magic elixir she has to sell, Saxony wrecklessly drinks the elixir and experiences some weird effects because of it. She also gets the mark of the magic sickness. Karam is a ring fighter, Wesley’s bodyguard and Saxony’s ex lover. Karam descends from the Rekhi d’Rhisni, a sect who’s duty it was to defend the crafters, the only ones who can create new magic, but they have sadly all been eradicated. The only magic available now are charms and elixirs that were already made.

“I don’t fancy dying today. I haven’t had time to properly prepare what I want you to say at my funeral.”

This is a reread for me. I read this book exactly one year ago for the first time, but when I got the sequel in the mail and wanted to start it, I realized that I didn’t remember anything about this first book other then that I enjoyed it. Now the sequel has this really great recap at the beginning, but of course I only discovered this after I reread this first book…

Let’s start of with something I really love about this book: the cover. Not the US one though, but this beautiful dark purple UK one. Another thing that I thought was really great, are the characters’ backstories. They all have had key moments in their past that made them who they are today and they were explored all throughout the story through flashbacks, conversation and even trough trials.

The first 100 pages are actually quite slow. There are some things happening and some little action scenes, but is is mainly getting to know how the magic works, how the government and magical underground works and who the characters are and what their backstrokes are. The story is told from four main pov’s with here and there another random pov thrown in. I really enjoy this format since it gives you the opportunity to get into every character’s head and really get to know them.

There is a map of the city in the front of the book, but only the first 100 pages take place there. The rest of the book is traveling through the different realms but there is no map of those. I thought that was kind of sad since most of the book takes place outside of the city.

After this first quarter of the book, the story started to pick up speed and it never really slows down after that. I didn’t feel like I was in the story though, during this middle part, but rather like the story was being told to me, so there was some sort of disconnect there. Maybe it’s because I was kind of maybe in a reading slump or maybe it’s the characters who all seem to have the same way of communicating: through sarcasm, exaggeration, snarkyness, childishness and jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a nice strong willed, snarky, whitty character, but for all of them to be like this is just too much for me. They all have very interesting backstories and a lot of attention was spent on that throughout the story, but in the present, they did feel similar at certain points. Even when new characters are introduced, they also have that way of communicating so I think the author should have paid more attention to that. It doesn’t seem realistic that all these different and unique characters have this same sarcastic and defensive way of communicating. They are going through some serious stuff throughout the story, but because of this constant bantering, it didn’t seem like any of them take things serious. That was my biggest complaint about the story and it really hindered my enjoyment.

So the beginning was ok but slow, the middle has some interesting plot points but also has a lot of banter and then the ending has almost none of the banter and the plot tales some amazing turns. This is a reread for me and I was still surprised. The last quarter was very fast paced. There was a lot of fighting and not so much talking and I really appreciated that’s it was a great ending for me where some plot points were resolved but there were also some new reveals that make you wonder how things will continue. There are still some parts of he main characters’ pasts that leave some room to expand on in the sequel and I am really excited to see what will be done with that. I also hope that the annoying banter is turned down a bit so I can enjoy it more.

Conclusion: an ok, but kind of slow start, a fast paced middle but with too much bantering and an incredible ending with a lot of twists and reveals. I still enjoyed it enough to continue on and finish this duology. The review of the sequel, City of Spells, will be up this friday.



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