Super strong characters carried the book

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maryroseann Avatar


This book was a very nice and quick read with strong characters all around, immaculate fake dating trope, and a fun, murky fantasy world.
I wasn’t sure a first how I would like this book because the magic system of cards, despite being a unique idea, was one of the kinds in which a word is spoken and something happens. I always prefer magic which taxes the user in some way and find it more realistic that way, but I still liked the idea and the book developed the magic system throughout the story by describing the “ingredients” for making the magical cards. One day of your life, a precious memory, and other things which do in fact tax the person from whom these ingredients are being harvested.
But the part of the book that stood out most to me were the fantastic characters and character relationships. Marlow was a brilliant and strong main character with a lot of anger over the cards that life has dealt her (pun intended). But she was still willing to be vulnerable and it was easy to connect to her. Her friendship with Swift was so sweet and Swift was the best supporting character, always ready to help Marlow with whatever she needs. Adrius was pretty much the quintessential YA fantasy male love interest which I’m not gonna complain about. He even did the “who did this to you?” line ;). Their romance was such a good rendering of the fake dating trope with all of the angst and not knowing what was real or fake. There was definitely some miscommunication going on but I didn’t mind it as much as I normally do because you’ve gotta have a bit of miscommunication to spice up the fake dating and keep the slow burn going.
I wish the world was explored and described more because I have such a soft spot for dingy cities (oh how I miss Ketterdam). It was actually really odd how this book used strange names for things with almost no explanation, so I wish that had been done better too. Another tiny critique is that even when the characters know they are going to a dangerous place they didn’t seem to ever bring enough spell cards?? I know that they can be hard to come by, but you would think the characters would prepare ahead of time and bring as many as they can instead of just packing three at a time. I also thought that the mystery was pretty predictable, but I didn’t read the book for the mystery and it isn’t marketed as a mystery so I didn’t really mind.
All in all this was a solid book and I will definitely read the sequel once it comes out!