This book immediately sucked me in with an interesting storyline.
In the generation before our main characters, not everything is going well. The King is teetering on the edge of madness. The Maiden is dying. The Hero is struggling to survive. With their last bit of hope, they look to the group that will come after their stories end and wish for their success.
These three archetypes–the King, the Maiden, and the Hero–were what made me want to read this story. There wasn’t a lot of details as to what they were and what roles they played in this world-changing plot, but readers pick up on these things as they go along in this book.
This book is very much an introduction to this world as the new characters figure out their roles in the plot.
The first character we are introduced to–Jesse–easily became my favorite character. They can physically switch between a male and female body, and decide to come to this city from the outside world to try and meet with their childhood best friend. As someone who is nonbinary, I really loved seeing their personal journey as they tried to pin down their gender identity. I could completely understand what they were going through as they tried to figure out whether they were a boy, a girl, or somewhere outside of the gender binary, and I really appreciate seeing a character so similar to myself.
The other character I want to point out for good transgender representation is nameless throughout most of this book, but goes by “Turing” if she had to choose something quickly. The Nameless Girl is a more binary example of the things I loved in Jesse’s story: she feels as though she is a girl, but most people perceive her as a boy, and her personal story includes struggling to figure out whether she can exist in the world as the gender she wants to be. I feel like a lot of trans readers will be able to understand her, and I also really appreciate her in this story.
The plot itself mostly focuses on a sort of murder mystery when the police find one of their own dead near a lake. Readers learn early on what happened to this dead police officer and must instead watch as the characters scramble to figure it out, putting the blame on each other in order to take it away from themselves and their loved ones. There’s a lot of corrupt cops and racism featured in this book for readers who may not wish to read something like that, but as this is a dark urban fantasy, it doesn’t seem out of place for this kind of story.
More towards the ending of this book, we focus again on the archetypes (the King, the Maiden, the Hero, the Monster) and their roles in the bigger, world-changing plot to this story. There are still a lot of questions unanswered by the end of this book as it sets up for the sequel, and I’m very excited to learn more about this world.