Hmm, this was an interesting one.
It had all the elements I like: Good female characters. Magic, some political intrigue and was fully readable. The story line was good and I liked the world created overall....but...it did not fully click with me:
- Kelsea. I hate saying this because it sometimes sounds cliché and it’s a weird thing to say....but I found her a bit too....perfect. Yeah she had her insecurities about her looks, etc. and that added some relatable elements, but I found that she always knew what to do, and everything she did always worked out...like a Mary Sue. I have read other books about exiled young queens who come into their crown and have to fight it out for respect and their own agency before...without feeling like this, so it is not a charge I make lightly. I make this charge about a lot of books with those male "The One" characters. Who are so powerful and so smart and so good...and they always win people over right away and things always fall into place. So it kind of loses that edge-of-your seat uncertainty and drama about their fate. After a while you’re like...of course she/he is going to be fine...he's "The One."
Also...her romantic link to the Fetch was just so...random. He is handsome and pays her a compliment and next scene she is pining for him like he is her great love? Why? Besides being a handsome bad boy...what is his appeal to her? I felt that was a bit too much of a plot device and just randomly thrown in there with no build up or real connection established. Unless that was the intention…but I doubt it.
- The world building is good...but sometimes it got a bit confusing. I get that this is supposed to be some future version of our world, where things went badly of course. But there are still some confusing questions. After the crossing and our people came to this new place...almost all technology is lost...but every so often we have a reference to some told technology or issues still existing somewhere...like plastic surgery or heroin addiction....it's like it’s just thrown in there, a collection of hodgepodge references to the Old World put in there like shiny objects. And…if this really is future/alt US in another place...where did magic some from? Did it exist in the old alt world as well? Was this new land have it exclusively? It's like they were trying to create a future dystopian novel....but not able to let go of the typical medieval fantasy world trope. It was just too jarring and confusing.
So yeah. I enjoyed it and liked the overall story. But these thing prevented me from loving it.