Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

Book Blurb:

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

My Review:

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Another-World, Survival, Supernatural, Royal-Court--

Kai has lived in the Labyrinth since she was 8, when her adopted brother Reeve found and cared for her. The two of them don’t ever talk about their missing pasts or Kai’s ability to manipulate time; just try to do everything to one day escape the life they currently lead. When Reeve goes missing, Kai feels like her world is collapsing around her. With the help from an unexpected friend, she goes on a dangerous mission to find her brother, even if it means she will never come back.

I did not have really any expectations when I started this book, so I found it to be interesting and unique. The world building was complicated, with a hierarchy lead by one man who has trained sentinels as his guards, yet nobody really ever sees him. I also like the history of the land, where magic once ran freely but has now died out, their leader the last of the magic users. The homes in the slums that Kai lives in are made from what sounds like train parts, such as cargo containers, abandoned at one time and now repurposed as homes. It makes me wonder if this is supposed to be a real place in our current world that the author made wither away from time to be something unrecognizable. I would be very intrigued to discover if that was the case. At times I find myself avoiding books with character names and locations or items that I can’t pronounce to save my life, I stumble over the words and it causes me to lose focus on the story and sit and stew if I am pronouncing it correctly. Super distracting for me. Anyway, I did encounter some tricky names here, but at least the few main characters I was ok with so I powered through, but I am sure someone is mangled in my internal catalogue of characters.

Kai was a complicated mess. She has this amazing skill of changing time, but is not allowed to use it for fear of being caught. At times she seems like she is confident and courageous, but at others she is an emotional mess who needs to be rescued, mainly from herself. Kai was so focused on her mission to rescue her brother that she had blinders on to the world and people around her. I wanted to like her, and for the most part I admired her determination but at other times I wanted to shake her for her stubbornness and her lack of communication. She had nine years to ask Reev about his life, she had years to actually befriend Avan, at least 2 weeks to ask Avan the truth about himself, but she never does. She says it was fear that they would leave her or be angered by her questions, but sometimes I feel it was self involvement that caused her lack of interest into others personal lives.

Avan was an odd character for me to pin down. He is this random boy who Kai is attracted to but will never act on, yet she knows nothing about him besides rumors. The back story we get is that he has an abusive father he wanted to escape so he prostitutes himself out each night to get a place to stay. He is this amazingly attractive man/boy (yet he was not really described well enough for me to have a mental picture except that his back muscles are impressive) that is bisexual, and hints at wanting Kai even while he keeps company with many others. I think he is an amazing friend to what he does for her, but I do not like him in the slightest for her love interest. I will admit that I thought there might be something building between Kai and Reev, with her jealousy and single minded focus to get him back even if it meant risking anyone in the process. I would have been ok with that turn of events, but the story did not take that direction. There does have the potential to be a love triangle whether it was intended as such by the author with the introduction of Mason. I really, really liked Mason. He was a real person to Kai, with no secrets or lies, everything upfront. He was completely into her even though she was blinded by Avan and her need for Reev. I would love to see something happen between Mason and Kai in the coming books, but I am afraid it might just be a pipedream.

Overall this was an interesting unique new fantasy story, heavy on the romantic angst. The book had its up and downs with things I like and other things I was not a fan of, but I feel like there is definitely potential for the writing and the story to grow and I look forward to more to come. The ending was a big shocker which raises even more questions as to what will happen next and what is waiting for Kai.

I received this title from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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