Excuse me, I would just like you to be aware that the last chapter (epilogue) of this gorgeous book will thoroughly WRECK you 😌 As in, you will gasp aloud and yell “WHAT THE HELL” at least ten times. Then, you will sit there in shock for an hour after closing the book… And you will never be the same again. (No guarantees that the next book will fix you 😁) Now you may proceed.
It’s always really interesting to read retellings because you get to see how an author takes a story that already exists and makes it entirely their own. Sarah Henning definitely succeeded in that. In fact, she didn’t just succeed—she killed it! This was the kind of book that is for people who have AND haven’t already read/watched The Princess Bride. The story wraps you up in the vivid imagery and tense political drama that is entirely it’s own, while still throwing in little Easter eggs that link it back to the story it’s a retelling of!
The only thing I wasn’t quite fond of is the fact that Luca and Amarande’s relationship has already been developed before the story starts. While I know that it was the right call to make for the plotline (seeing them falling in love didn’t have anything to do with it), it did make it so that I had a harder time trying to commit to their relationship in the first chunk of the book. HOWEVER, I did end up warming up to them by the second half and I was committed to wanting the best for them by then, so it’s all good in the end!
Also, while I HATED Renard and Taillefer (because they’re vicious and they hurt my poor babies 😭), I can’t deny how cleverly their characters were put together. They were full of deceit and the centre of a lot of my suspicious and—okay, it has to be said: Taillefer needs to go see someone. Like, he REALLY needs to go see someone. Something went very wrong in his head at some point and he is just—… yeah. Renard, at least, seemed semi-sane. Cruel, but sane. Taillefer was just a straight up psychopath. And I don’t want him anywhere near my little loves ever again 🥺 He needs to be wiped off the face of this earth. Permanently.
But back to the good stuff!! I freaking love Amarande. I love how she broke through every single stereotype and reinforced such a strong image of women—independent, not in need of saving, capable of thinking for themselves and making their own decisions. In fact, ALL the women in the book did that, and I was HERE FOR IT. And another thing I loved a lot?? The fact that Luca wholeheartedly believed and never stopped believing that she would be the one to save him. That she had the strength and the wit to rescue him even when everyone else doubted it. She proved them all wrong, and she proved him right. THAT is love.
Also, can I just take a moment to say that Sarah Henning is amazing at crafting a plot and mapping out intrigue? Like, seriously, I thought I knew what was going on in this book (and I clearly got a touch too overconfident 😂) only to be shown at every turn that I really didn’t know a damn thing and that the author was messing with me, trying to make me believe that I had it all figured out when I clearly didn’t 😂 AND IM NOT EVEN MAD. It made this book all the better because of it!
Okay, but seriously, you all NEED to read this book. (I’m only being somewhat selfish when I say this, because I am DESPERATE for someone to flail with me until book two releases 😩 And maybe even after that, if we’re being honest.) But I also say this because it was genuinely a good book! Especially once you hit the second half, everything really starts picking up the pace and it’s hard to put the book down for ANYTHING.