I really had high hopes for this book after finishing A Darker Shade of Magic. Lila had left, and I was looking forward to more Kell, Rhy, and hopefully, Holland. I was disappointed immediately when the first chapter, and the bulk of the novel following, was from Lila's perspective. She was no better than she was in the first novel of the series, and if anything, she was more aggravating. She literally says several times, "I'm not like other girls." We get it. She hates dresses and loves knives. Also, apparently, she's amazing at magic and can wield at least two elements, because of course she can. To be honest, this story would have been miles better without Lila in it- and we actually wouldn't be missing much if her part was excised completely. Sure, we would have lost some insight on Alucard, but that's a sacrifice I'd be more than willing to make. Not only is she ridiculously overpowered and given too much spotlight, but she beats out 30 some other magicians with her newfound skills. I was eye-rolling so hard it hurt.
Besides Miss Thief With Godlike Powers, there is the issue of the first half of the novel dragging nowhere into the mud. The second half went by much more quickly, since it contained the magic tournament, Essen-Tash. The book could have been reduced by at least a hundred pages if you take out all the nonsense filler, and focused more on the magic battles, which is really what everyone wants to read about anyway.
I was really reading this for Holland. He's by far the most intriguing of all the characters in the novel. He really does seem like a good person, but keeps getting dragged down by evil beings. I am really hoping that he gets his freedom in the last novel of the trilogy. If not, it is a lost opportunity on Schwab's part and a damn shame.
Kell and Rhy had a much better showing here, and I was happy to see them try to work out their life bond while Kell competed in the Essen-Tash. Rhy is another interesting character that we saw far too little of in ADSoM. Also, kudos to Schwab for not letting Lila or Kell win the tournament. That would have been just a little too on-the-nose.
Will I be reading the last in the trilogy? Most likely, even though I have a strong suspicion how it will play out. I love the idea of multiple Londons and magicians being able to travel between them. The magic system and battles are also portrayed and explained well. Again, it's Schwab's main characters that fall flat for me, and kill an otherwise promising series.