Date Started: June 9th, 2023
Date Finished: June 19th, 2023
** I was gifted an eARC of this book by the author in return for an honest review. Book comes out September 5th, 2023!
When I first saw this book appear on Analeigh's Instagram, I was super excited. The promise of a cursed library, humans trapped in a world surrounded by magical beings, and dark, cottagecore vibes ticked every one of my literary boxes. And the beginning of the book started off strong, delivering on so many of the promises being teased out via IG.
We start off the story by meeting Lore who is living in her very human world of Duskmere where she tends to her adoptive aunt's apothecary and the children of the orphanage. Not long after we meet her, and earthshake turns Lore's world upside down, and she is soon taken to an Alytherian fae city. It is here that she is tasked by a dark fae steward to clean up a library, cursed so that no fae may enter.
The bones of this story are so good. So so good. But the issue I had while reading was that I didn't feel there was enough time spent in each location or with the characters. Analeigh is amazing at painting a picture of a scene, but we are never in that scene for very long. Things move very quickly and Lore covers a LOT of ground in the book in a very short amount of time.
There was also lack of depth and nuance to the characters that made it difficult to connect with any of them (aside from Isla who literally shines from her very first entrance and Finn who has the promise of being a very complex character). I just wanted... more from their interactions, especially when it came to Lore. We have a view of her internal world which is painted vividly (Analeigh did a wonderful job portraying varying degrees of grief and confusion and passion and physical pain) but oftentimes it felt like conflicts were wrapped up too quickly and a bit jarringly.
Of course, I loved the incredibly diverse cast, with the entire main cast being BIPOC. And there was also amazing LGBTQIA+ representation. It made my heart incredibly happy 💛
In the end, I would have loved this book to be even longer and more drawn out with more attention paid in the library (we only got a brief glimpse!), to the characters, and even the magical system that Lore is just beginning to discover. The bones are all there and it is a lovely, quick read that ends in a delicious cliffhanger that had me excited to pick up the second in the series.