Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS by Mary E. Pearson

Rating: 5/5 stars (realistically, 4.9/5 stars)

What a conclusion to this amazing series! The Beauty of Darkness is the third and last novel in the Remnant Chronicles, and it was well worth the near-700 pages of stress.

*Spoilers ahead for books one and two of the Remnant Chronicles*

Book two ends with Lia near death and stuck in the wilderness of the Cam Lanteux. I feel like saying anything at all after that is a spoiler, but it's pretty evident that Lia survives, given she's the protagonist of the series. She makes it with Rafe and his crew of trusted Dalbreck soldiers to a Dalbretch outpost a few days' journey away. But Lia doesn't want to stay; she wants to return to her homeland of Morrighan to warn her people of the imminent threat of the Komizar's invasion.

The first one hundred pages of the book were Lia and Rafe and some others traveling through the wilderness. This was the slowest part of the book because I felt like the bits that were important, like all the conversations and discussions of plans and reuniting of characters, could have been condensed into fewer pages, and I also just really wanted to get to the action. This little bit of slowness was the only thing that made this book not fully five stars for me. But for all intents and purposes, the book gets a 5/5 because the rest of the story more than makes up for it.

Almost all of this book is Lia making preparations for the final battle of the series, the one between Lia and the Komizar. But there's so much detail and political intrigue and secrets laced into her plans that I couldn't stop reading. I read this book quicker than the other two, and it's the longest in the series. It was just so exceptional that I couldn't look away from the pages.

All of the secrets come to light in this final installment, all of the lies revealed. I loved that because as I read the series I had a mental puzzle of the world and all its happenings. With each new detail or fact uncovered, I would add a piece to my puzzle and slowly start to see the whole image appearing. And with this last book, I knew I was just so close to getting all my questions answered. I could see the end, but I knew I was missing just three or so more details! It was agonizing in the best way to read this book. Pearson keeps you on your toes throughout the whole journey, constantly testing your memory and trying your trust. I thought I knew who was guilty or where the plot would take me, and then the rug was pulled out from under me, so to speak, and I was left staring at the pages, mouth agape.

I loved the ending of this book. The final battle was a tiny bit shorter than I thought it would be, with all the hundreds of pages that went into planning it. And once the battle ended, the book jumped ahead a few days. I guess we don't need that in-between stuff, but I wanted it. I still want so much more from this world because I am just in love with these characters.

I am happy who Lia ended up with in the end. I actually didn't think she would end up with anyone, the way things were going, but then the ending pleasantly surprised me, even though I've been wanting her to be with the other guy the whole series. (There really was no love triangle though, if we're being honest. Her feelings have been plain and clear from the beginning.) And I'm very pleased with Pauline's ending! I didn't even know I wanted that until it happened, and then I was giddy about it. Honestly, all the (surviving) characters got a happy ending, and I was so nervous that Pearson was going to kill off someone I loved.

This book is everything, this series is everything, and I'm very happy I decided to pick up The Kiss of Deception on a whim because this series is a new favourite. I love everything about it.

Don't even try to use the map in this book though, by the way. It's a total joke by book three because more than 70% of the important cities or settlements or locations in the book are not on the map at all. Not even close. It was clearly drawn to depict the important places in book one but never updated with each book. That is my one wish for this series, that the map could have been more complete. It's only like 50% there, and that first half of it is awesome! But it's still missing its other half, and I just want to know where all the battles took place.

Overall, if you want a thrilling low-fantasy series that feels more like an old historical fiction with strong-willed characters and lots of surprises, then give this series a try. The writing is beautiful, the characters are beautiful, the story is beautiful. I'll definitely be rereading this one someday.

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