Top critical review
Lots of plot devices
Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2020
My rating is mostly for the entire series as if I were to rate just this book it would probably only be 2 stars. While the storyline was great, full of potential with all the different fantasy characters (some that pop up randomly with no previous introduction) the story itself fell a bit flat to me.
The relationships between characters in these books isn't developed much, or in some cases at all. Perhaps if I had read the authors previous series I would have cared a bit more about the supporting cast but this is my first series by this author and as such I didn't have any great investment in most of the characters. And honestly, I didn't have much investment in the main character either as she seemed to be a walking cliche. She was supposedly really smart but then would overlook glaringly obvious things. She was fated to the Sea Fae King but kept second guessing how authentic their affection for each other was because they are "fated mates". They don't spend much time developing any real relationship beyond two people who overcome trials together and there was never any real bond created except, well... we're fated mates so of course we're perfect for each other. Even her "best friends" weren't very well developed and I saw no real bond and had no understanding of what made these characters her best friends. After all, in book one she can't talk to them because of (what amounts to) a geas and then when the reason for that is over (her fated mate who hunted her becomes her greatest ally) there is no conversation where she explains all she wasn't able to explain before, no time spent building up this friendship at all even, save for them sitting around in her and her brother's coffee shop/bar. And then there is her brother, I was invested in this relationship as it was explored much more than any other in the first two books and yet they hardly even have a real in-depth conversation at all in this final book. She doesn't even tell him what she really is and what the entire purpose of her existence is meant to be. Nor does she tell her perfectly fated mate.
These things, added to the (at times) extremely convenient plot devices, served to make this a bit of a chore to read. The whole series seemed to go very directly and in the quickest way possible from point to point to point. Or rather problem to problem to problem, each one being followed up with a quick and easy (and sometimes downright unrealistic-or far too convenient) solution. Her familiar seems to serve as a very convenient plot device time after time. This series seemed far too full of them. Duex ex machina (x 20.) It was really disappointing because with a bit more detail, a few extra chapters, this could've been a really epic story.
I had hoped the ending would give some further glimpse into the other characters and into the main characters lives but that was not to be. In fact, the ending, in keeping with the theme of the entire series, was entirely too quick and neatly wrapped up. In an effort to not divulge any spoilers I'll just say that the way things were going in the last great battle made it obvious there was going to be yet another plot device that wrapped everything up neatly and kept you from feeling any real emotion, and indeed there was.
Honestly though, even if there hadn't been I can't say I'd have been too affected anyway considering the very shallow character building and relationship development leading up to the climax, if it can even be called that. Which is sad because there was some seriously cool imagery and awesome sounding characters! That got introduced in the last half of the book that we heard about not at all previously... If only the author had explored that a little more. It's clear she has a great imagination but equally as clear this book was rushed. ("Realm of darkness"... Really? That's the best name you could come up with?)
And finally, the editing... My goodness. She actually thanked her editor and I wonder why because this and the previous two books are full of errors and typos, so much so it was distracting. But I digress. I gave this 3 stars because the story line was still a good one and the amount of research that went into it is clear, the author used actual sites to inspire her, and honestly, the authors note at the end on ancient artifacts was informative enough to earn a star. So while this is definitely not a series I'll ever read again I may see what else the author has to offer (and hope she gets a new editor) with the additional hope that she'll eventually get into her stories with a bit more depth in the future.
All in all, if you're looking for a quick and easy fantasy story to read you've found it. If you're looking for a story that's more evolved and complex to invest in, move along. I suggest The Otherworld Series by Emma Hamm. In fact I may go re-read those myself now.