Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review: Mortal Heart

I ALMOST saw Robin LaFevers last year when she was on her Mortal Heart tour but sadly her talk was the same night, same time as another talk I had already signed up to go to in another part of the city so I wasn't able to. I expect the world to better arrange itself to fit my social schedule in 2015 although for some reason I don't think that is going to happen...

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Annith has always dreamed of the day that she would receive her first assignment and join her sisters as one of Death's handmaidens, murdering the wicked and helping the just. But the abbess at the covent of Mortain seems oddly determined to keep her from ever leaving and no amount of spying can seem to explain why. And thus, Annith joins Ismae and Sybella on the mainland of Brittany to help repel the French and uncover secrets about the convent and herself. 

I was more excited for this book than I was for Dark Triumph because Annith always seemed like a more interesting character to me than Sybella but in the end both they and Ismae were so similar to each other that I felt like I was reading three separate stories about the same character. Not only do the girls' inner thoughts sound very similar (in both language and content) but their character development makes them all even more similar, I actually winced whenever Ismae and Sybella were together in a scene because they would sound just too similar (and I started having this thought back in Dark Triumph but they had less page time together). And at first it sounded like Annith's story would be different, her challenges are more complex than Ismae's and different from Sybella's and yet, in the end I think you could have swapped any of the girls for another and the story wouldn't have been radically different. I also had to groan that as soon as Annith left that convent that BAM a love interest showed up. The introduction felt so awkward and their subsequent relationship also didn't feel believable as well, too bad if that subplot was dropped that it would majorly affect the entire plot as well.

Was there anything I liked about this book then? Well, I didn't actually hate it and I did like how the story talked more about the old nine gods, especially since I feel like I see fewer stories with active, pantheons of gods than I used to in YA fantasy. I wish some of the groups associated with the gods had been introduced earlier in the trilogy since they could have added in some interesting elements but oh well. And LaFevers afterword also made me really curious about the real world history about Brittany and it's struggle to remain independent of France, it's clear that she has a real love for the history and I wish she had included some of her research sources so that I could go read those as well (perhaps I'll get lucky and find them listed online). But in the end, this was a series that started out promising and then just fell flat with the second and third books. Neither were terrible but neither of them were better than the first book and in a good series each book feels more exciting and interesting than the last which isn't what happened for me. I'm not sure what LaFevers' current writing plans are but after seeing her write nearly the exact same lead three times in a row I would be a bit hesitant to read another book by her.

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