I was not impressed with this last book in the triology. It did not end well for me. Here are my issues with it (many of which have already been touched upon by other reviers)...
- Too darn long. Seriously. I don't mind reading long books, but only when it doesn't -feel- like a long book. You can give me a book thousand pages long and I will keep reading if it engages me. This book did not engage me. It felt long. I wasn't caught up. There were far too many unessecary characters and subplots that did not add to the overall story, but rather detracted from it. I felt as if Bray wasn't quite sure what she wanted her story to be at the end of the day, so she just threw in every speck of inspiration she had into it without truly sorting it out and polishing it into a coherent conclusion.
- The characters don't really develop. I still feel that Felicity, Ann and Pippa were just as selfish fair weather friends as they were when the first book began. I was hoping that the dynamics of their relationship would have began to have some actual depth. But they stayed shallow. I never got the sense that these girls were true friends by the end of the day.
- Issues being thrown in haphazardly. More specifically the topic of Felicity sexual abuse and the homosexuality between Fee and Pippa. I think it's great that Bray choose to tackle such emotional issues, but they weren't really developed and instead were just thrown in. The homosexuality comes a bit out of left field. Pippa seems completely hetrosexual from the start - she's always wishing for a knight. She dreams of living the life of a fairy tale princess. Now, Fee I can understand her homosexuality especially as a result of the abuse. But I think that dynamic would have been more interesting to explore - if Fee were gay and not Pippa... having Fee in love with Pippa without Pippa knowing about it would have made it so much stronger and more realistic. It also would have given a chance to get a bit more into Fee's mind, I think. She just didn't develop or explore either issue.
- Too much "vagina power" centered rawwrrrr-ing for me. Bray came off as far too heavy handed about feminism that it bordered on propaganda dribble. I don't like when authors beat me over the head with their political viewpoints. The previous two books did a much better job of conveying that tone and message without going as overboard as this one did.
- The entire end and realms sequences didn't make much sense. For one thing, there was just too much going on. Every minute of the day was an epic battle or situation. There was such little down time from it that there was no build up. No progression. It's just one series of "But then THIS happened!". Futhermore, I never got an understanding of the realms or the magic. Gemma never really understands it either and by the end she really should. She makes one bad decision after another, it gets way too frustrating. It felt like the author was caught up in having a bunch of cool cinematic scenes in her mind, without really grasping how it all fit in together. I still don't understand anything about Eugenia, the Tree, Kartik and Circe by the end. It's a jumbled mess. The characters shift back in forth between motivations and roles in the story that whatever message Bray is trying to send is completely lost. She keeps trying to do this thing of "You only though so-and-so was a bad guy, but look here's another side, and also, you thought this person was a good guy, but look they're actually evil bwhahaha". It was overdone. She does that with almost every character. I like shade of grey characters and I love learning about character you thought were awful have a whole 'nother side to them. But it didn't work here. Especially not when she does it with every single character.
So yeah, very disappointed in the ending. I really enjoyed the previous two, but this one sank the ship for me.