Happy Friday! While I'm writing up some new reviews of arcs I thought I'd share a review on one of my new favourite fantasy reads, These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan. I definitely got a bit rambly when writing this so apologies in advanced.
Where to even begin…. I expected to like this book, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for how emotionally invested I would become in it. From the beginning, Abriella (Brie for short) want’s nothing to do with Fae even if it would help save her life. But when her sister is sold the unseelie king Brie will do whatever it takes to get her back. To do so, she has to gain access to the seelie court to steal 3 magic relics. This means posing as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, while trying not to fall in love for real, while also accepting help from a misfit group of unseelies led by their inscrutable yet charming leader Finn. Being caught between the two courts, Brie has to figure out where her trust and loyalty can truly lie, and of course no one is ever quite as they first appear.
The entire concept of this book is wonderful and the way it was executed is even more incredible. I love book where I don’t see every plot line coming and this book did such an excellent job at that. I think as a reader that made the book much more enticing to read. I also thoroughly enjoyed the hidden meanings throughout that would come to fruition later in the book. I feel like some of the hidden meanings kept me in more suspense for parts of the book since I could never seem to anticipate how they would eventually play out. A lot of the scenarios played out better than I could’ve expected and I enjoyed that, even if it meant I was in complete shock or screaming at a character for doing something so unexpected.
I thought that Brie had some good character growth through the book and I hope she has even more growth in the sequel. What she comes to learn about herself while she’s in the selfie court is so interesting and the way she grows with what she learns is wonderful to see. The longer the story went on the stronger I felt Brie was becoming as a character and a person. I think she definitely has more room for character growth, but especially towards the very end of the book it was obvious just how much stronger she had become.
I love how Brie was willing to put aside her hatred of fae to get her sister back, the two obviously have a very close bond which I loved to see. Making a deal with someone so sinister to ensure she can get her sister back is a bold move, but one that Brie is quick to make if it means reuniting wither sister. I know they didn’t have much time together in the book but I would’ve loved seeing even more moments between the two sister as they always seemed so heartfelt and sweet.
I think my favourite character dynamic in the book was between Finn and Brie. The enemies to tolerating each other to friends that slowly took place throughout the book was delightful. Finn was a very mysterious character when he’s first introduced, and honestly even at the end I feel like there’s still quite a bit of mystery about him - though maybe that’s me being paranoid. Definitely falls into the morally grey character definition which I am always in love with. Seeing Finn open up, even a bit, was always a special moment and I like that though those moments were few and far between they were still there. I’m hoping in These Twisted Bonds that there’ll be even more moments with Finn where he opens up and gives more insight into who he really is.
Seeing the relationship between Finn and Brie slowly change was exciting to see, especially as Brie’s relationship with Prince Ronan was changing at the same time. And yes - this is technically a love triangle, but I didn’t find that trope annoying in the slightest in this book. It was written so well that I didn’t see it as annoying or interfering. I get the feeling there might be more interactions between Finn and Prince Ronan in the next book and I am curious to see how those potential interactions will play out. I believe it will be okay as long as their interactions don’t focus too much on Brie herself and more the issues the two have with each other.
Now I know I haven’t mentioned Prince Ronan too much, you can kind of guess who I like better of the two love interests. I had a lot of mixed emotions about Prince Ronan that seemed to change sporadically throughout the book. What I thought of him in the very beginning is not the same as my thoughts for most of the book, and especially not by the end. If his character plays out the way I think he’s going to in These Twisted Bonds then I feel like I’m a bit excited to read about him - but for a very different reason than in the first book. (that was my best at saying anything without some major spoilers.)
Now I can’t finish this review without talking about the ending at least a bit, because the last 50 pages had me screaming, for different reasons every couple pages. I am honestly in love with how it ended even if it was a cliffhanger ending and think that book 2 has a really good spot to pick up from. A fair bit of those hidden meanings I mentioned earlier came to fruition during the last bit of the story and I like the way that it all kind of came together. I can honestly tell you, there were a few major plot twist at the end that left me close to speechless and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out in the next book.