Keyflame was an immensely enjoyable read that not just hit a lot of points I like, but also handled typical tropes in very original and satisfying ways. I really enjoyed how nothing was quite what it seemed: from protagonist Lilah, to mysterious Kalin, and even idyllic college town Grahamstown itself. Lucy deftly handles her characters, setting, and plot twists, showcasing her storytelling skill with each development. Just when I thought I had one plot figured out, she neatly twisted it in another direction; I didn’t feel disappointed or taken for a ride, though–all I could think was, “Well, of COURSE that’s how it had to happen!”
Full of colorful characters, sneaky twists, and magical turns, Keyflame is a winner. The first person narration works very well, and Lilah’s realization that things aren’t what they seem is handled really well, as is her development and growth. The romance is handled nicely, and scenes of a certain nature tastefully fade to black. As a US reader, I found the descriptions of South Africa wonderful, and the Afrikaans phrases sprinkled in added immensely to this setting (a helpful glossary is included at the end). Some parallel-world fantasy novels seem like they could just be lifted up and set mostly anywhere; but Keyflame couldn’t really take place anywhere else and still have the same heart.
Keyflame will be well worth your time and attention!
As usual I’m late to the party on a few things. In this case, audiobooks, and the Grishaverse. I have several friends who are fans of both, and in my quest to work with my mental issues rather than against them, I decided to try Audible. Because I got a free book to start, and I have friends who’ve spoken highly of this, and Netflix is coming out with a production of it next month, I decided to give Shadow and Bone a try. As you can see from the photo above, I’m pretty much at the midpoint as of yesterday, so I thought I’d pause and made some predictions, as well as jot down some thoughts, and then see how close I was at the end. There will probably be some spoilers, so… warning, etc.
The world is interesting, and the explanation of magic, or “the small science” is nicely fleshed out. That was something I struggled with in my writing, was the theory behind it.
I’m probably not supposed to like The Darkling, but I do. Also, constantly hearing “The Darkling” reminds me of Darkling I Listen, a musical setting of part of Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale, by Ben Moore. I might have to ask to work on that again in my next voice lesson.
Noticing a lot of YA fantasy tropes: special magical training compound, with the students separated by color of their robes (which in this case denote abilities). Lonely protagonist doesn’t fit in, though everyone expects great things from them. There is a rival who is jealous of them. That rival injures the protagonist, who spends the night in the infirmary, where the plot thickens.
The narrator is pretty good! I’ve heard from friends that a bad narrator can ruin the audiobook experience, so I’m pleased with this rendition.
I love Genya.
The book kicked off with the shadow part of things, and now I’m learning about the bone part of it, so at least it makes sense to me now.
Predictions (here there be spoilers!)
Alina only accesses her power on her own when she feels that Mal has turned his back on her. Once she thinks he doesn’t need her or care about her, she realizes she doesn’t have to hold it at bay any longer. I think someone, The Darkling probably, has ordered her letters to Mal destroyed or whatever, so she can let go of that one attachment holding her back.
She’s going to feel betrayed and leave, only to find Mal who’ll be like, “You never wrote, why did you turn your back on me?” and she’ll be like, “I didn’t!” and they’ll team up again.
The Darkling is more ambitious/greedy than he’ll let on. I think Alina’s going to leave, and he’ll do whatever he can to get her back. He wants to use her to his own ends. He did initially want her kefta to be black, like his. I shouldn’t cheer for him. I think I’m supposed to be drawn in by how enigmatic he is and then feel just as betrayed as Alina will. I want him to be complex, and not just pretending to be enigmatic to hide how manipulative he is. Again, just a prediction. I hope to be proven wrong at the end.
So that’s where I’m at so far, at the midpoint of Shadow and Bone. It’s interesting and enjoyable, and I think it’s going to make a really gorgeous visual adaptation on Netflix, between the settings and the costumes. I’ve heard the Crows duology is quite good (as a story and as a fully cast audiobook), and some like it even better than the trilogy, so I’ll be looking forward to reading those (plus, heist narrative full of shady characters and double crosses? I’m so in.).
I have a lot of driving coming up this week and in the upcoming weekend, so I’m sure I’ll finish this one. I’ll be interested to see how close my predictions were!