From Goodreads: “Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.”
When I finished TIWA, I stared at the cover for a few minutes trying to decide how I felt. There were things I loved and others that irked the heck out of me. Rating it seemed almost impossible.
So, I’ve decided to use a little math. Let’s start with 3-stars and go from there:
Plus 1/2 star: Steampunk element was well done. I like the mix of magic and technology.
Plus 1/2 star: Some good world building and characterization. Victorian England elements worked within the story. The explanations of the different types of people – sorcerers (some prime or super special like Bannon), mentaths (extra smart geniuses like Clare) and shields (protectors like Mikal) – was fascinating. By the way, I would be a mentath if you care.
Minus 1/2 star: Taking the convenient route when world building. It’s not a problem that we recognize Victorian England but I don’t think an author should take the easy way out and leave too much of the real world in place. There were scenes where it was a little too close to reality.
Minus 1 star (and probably should be more): Characterization of women. How can you have a strong, smart female lead like Emma Bannon and still leave the reader feeling like you dislike women? Clare alludes to Bannon being too hard or straight-forward. Ok, I could accept that as part of his character. But, you made Emma question herself constantly saying that she wasn’t feminine enough or was too outspoken. And, why, every time she said a curse word was it blanked out? Other, male characters, were allowed to curse freely. Don’t get me started on the attitude Clare had about Bannon’s intimate relationship. MYOB, buddy.
Minus 1/2 star: This reduction is simply due to Clare’s obsession with Bannon’s child-like face and curly hair. It was creepy.
Plus 1 star: When you can’t wait to read the next installment, the book deserves an extra star.
Overall, 3/5 stars. Now, can someone send me the next one?