Quick review for a quick re-read. I read this book for the first time many years ago, and I remember it being one that stood out not only for its striking cover, but for being a YA urban fantasy title with dark imagery in the presentation of the world of the fey. Yet, even with Melissa Marr's writing being mostly clear cut in the presentation of the world as well as the emotions of the different characters this tale revolved around, I found my re-reading of it having more than a few points of irritation. It may be because I've read more YA urban fantasy titles since this one or buildings of the world of the fey, but I honestly think there were issues with this that didn't translate as well as it could've.
I'll admit I liked the lore surrounding this tale - a cursed prince with his powers bound but yet the girls he chooses in a ritual to determine co-ruling his kingdom and freeing him from the curse leaves them trapped/bound to ice by the Winter staff. The former girls that are trapped are tasked to warn the next young woman against trusting Keenan's motivations (and fair reason, considering). Aislinn is the latest girl to catch Keenan's eye, and she's had the sight for the fey for all of her life.
Aislinn, on the other hand, has been on the run from the fey, trying to pretend they don't exist in order to avoid detection or attention from them. Yet when Keenan sets his sights on her, she's torn between fighting him for the freedom to maintain her life and relationships and keeping to the warnings that her grandmother has given her all her life. Granted, the premise by itself on this level would seem intriguing, but the presentation this story gives it really isn't that strong. I'll admit I struggled through the narrative more than I should've considering the sketch of the plot. It has a dark premise and dark promises in its building of the world and conflict, but much of it feels forced along. I mean, Aislinn is far too quick to break her grandmother's warnings just for the sake of being able to go where she wants, do what she wants, go out with Seth, the goth friend who's sort of become something more but she keeps him firmly in the friend category for *reasons.* I was frustrated by how easily she cast aside the warnings only to end up in obvious danger (though she does refuse Keenan's advances - which I could applaud her for on some measures.)
Keenan is incredibly stalkerish and creepy through the beginning stages of this novel - and I had a hard time liking his character or finding a connection to his motivations in the narrative. I honestly didn't like him very much in my initial read of this book and not much really changed in my re-read. Seth is a bit of a convenient side-character, established to further the romance depicted in the book. One could also say that while the characters are drawn in such a way to further the conflict and lore inside the book, it's so thinly drawn and hard to palpate that the intrigue never measures up as much as it builds itself up to. I even felt the antagonist in this book was very weak for lack of expansion and true connection to the overarching conflict of the work.
The audioboook was well narrated, but even then made me feel like I had to push through it in points. Still, I think what kept me moving through it was the strength of the writing and impression of the realm it builds (alongside a few action sequences that were well drawn to me.)
I'll admit it's hard for me to know how the series will unfold after this book, but all things considered, I want to see if this series has the potential to improve with the new installments. It's a hard sell given the flaws this book had, but I'm in it for the longer haul.
Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.