Poppy, a Maiden chosen from birth to ascend with the gods, has been sheltered her entire life. Forced to wear a veil and forbidden from interacting with others, she rebels in small ways. Hawke, a young new guard in the palace is assigned to protect her, but he’s harboring secrets of his own. As the two are thrown together, they build a fiery attraction that has Poppy questioning everything in her life.
Buckle up, because I am about to go off. I hate this book. I think it is dreadful for so many reasons and I kept reading thinking it must get better, but no, it never does. So why do I hate it? Here we go:
1) There is a startling lack of consent in this romance novel. This is not sexy, it is harmful. Poppy is a virgin who has been raised in a very sheltered way, and she consistently says to Hawke that she is not interested in kissing, having sex, etc. Every time she says no, Hawke says something to the nature of “I think you want me to do this.” I do not care if Poppy did, in fact, enjoy whatever they were doing. If someone says no, they do not want it to happen. If someone says yes, but only after being pushed or says it reluctantly, they do not want it to happen. If you do not have enthusiastic consent, you do not have consent. When people say that Hawke and Poppy are #couplegoals, I want to actually cry. I experienced a situation like this, and it is so painful to see something so toxic portrayed as something romantic and sexy. Then it gets EVEN WORSE at the end of the book, though I will not spoil that plot in case you do decide to read this book for yourself.
2) I strongly believe that Poppy is a character written to appeal to men. This sounds stupid because it is a romance novel that I believe will be read by mostly female readers, but that makes it even worse in my opinion. What do men want in a woman? They want someone innocent and virginal, but also she should know a few things and have a dirty sense of humor. She should be soft, but she should also be a badass who can take people down. And she definitely needs to look hot while killing people. Poppy encompasses all of these things, even though it makes no sense for her character, someone who has been sheltered her entire life and only interacted with about five people, to be like this. If women read this and want to be like her, they’re hoping to be something that realistically does not exist. Poppy is an unrealistic dream girl to men and this is further pushed by Hawke continually calling her “so unexpected.” Can we please just stop with the “you’re not like other girls” idiocy?
3) Moving beyond content to the actual writing of this book. The foreshadowing is out of control. Every plot point is so heavy-handedly foreshadowed that there were no twists. Any reader could see where the story was going and immediately resolve anything meant to be suspenseful. This makes the book laboriously long because there is nothing driving the story beyond Hawke and Poppy’s relationship which is, as previously stated, toxic.
4) Absolutely disappointing world-building. Info dumps are heavily loaded in the front of the book, and I still have no real understanding of the world that we are in or Poppy’s magical powers. There are creatures and situations that are never explained. What does The Maiden actually do? What is an Ascended? What are Vampyrs and Atlantians? We may never know. Also, she strangely named things after real places with just a couple letter changes, like Masadonia? Why? There’s just a real lack of originality and thoughtfulness for a high fantasy novel.
5) The inclusion of modern language including the word “freaking.” I cannot abide.
6) A petty gripe/hill I will die on: Authors need to use ellipses thoughtfully. I actually typically hate ellipses, which was solidified in reading this book where an ellipsis are on basically every page. You do not need to add ellipses every time a character is thinking, but that is how they are used in this novel. It’s just so unnecessary.
I normally follow the rule, “to every book its reader” when I make reviews and try to encourage you to read things for yourself if you’re interested, but I cannot make that recommendation with this book. I think this book is actively harmful. If you’ve read it and loved it, I am glad you found something to enjoy, but I hope you’ll consider what I’ve said before recommending it to others. It could be deeply painful for anyone who has been assaulted or deeply problematic for anyone who reads the romance or character as something to aspire to.
This is probably the only rant review I will ever do, so thanks for sticking with me through it. I’ll be back again with a better book and a more positive review soon!