Thursday, February 3, 2022

Review: SHE WHO RIDES THE STORM by Caitlin Sangster

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I was so excited to read this book when I first heard about it. That gorgeous cover + a blurb by Brandon Sanderson + my book club’s monthly pick + a fantasy heist with magic and two romances? Hook, line, and sinker. Unfortunately, I really really struggled with all aspects of this book and had to DNF on page 84 (14%) because I noticed myself actively avoiding the book by choosing to do anything else other than reading, which is always a bad sign. 

To start with, She Who Rides the Storm is marketed as a young adult fantasy because the characters are all teens, but this should really be marketed as an adult fantasy instead. It reads like an adult fantasy and has intricate magic like an adult fantasy and drops you into the world mid-story without explaining anything like an adult fantasy. Initially, this made me more excited to read it because I tend to prefer adult fantasy over young adult fantasy, but I actually think the way this was handled here was to this book’s detriment. 

This book has lots of POVs. I think maybe four or six? I’m not sure because it was hard to keep them all straight or figure out whose perspective I was reading from. Sometimes I was even convinced I was reading from a third-person omniscient POV, which just wasn’t working for me. We’re introduced to a ton of characters right at the beginning, and each person has something special about them. I was not able to connect with or care about any of the characters, however. I’m also not sure which character is supposed to be represented on the cover because she doesn’t seem to resemble any of the ones I met. 

I cannot pinpoint a specific reason why, but I just could not focus on the story. Nothing was drawing me in and it was very slow-moving. There were lots of new terminologies that weren’t being explained that I could never intuit what they meant. That combined with a brand new world that also wasn’t being explained and the huge cast of characters I couldn’t connect to and a plot that was hard to follow was all too much for me. Often it took me an hour to read only ten pages. Like I said, I struggled

I’m very sad She Who Rides the Storm did not work for me because I genuinely wanted to love this book. The synopsis sounded so good, plus there are the reasons I listed above for why I was so excited fo it. But then I had to ask myself if this book didn’t have a pretty cover and it wasn’t blurbed by Brandon Sanderson would I feel bad about DNFing it? And I concluded no, I wouldn’t. Those are superficial reasons to continue reading a book when I’m struggling so intensely and actively finding other things to do so I don’t have to read it. That’s a sign I need to put it down. However, if I am able to find an audiobook in the future I would consider finishing it because it is so much easier to finish difficult books when I’m effortlessly listening to someone read them to me versus me reading them to myself. 

Overall, I am disappointed with this book. I expected to love it; I expected it to be a new favorite novel. But it just wasn’t working for me. Every time I read a new page my brain couldn’t absorb any information about the story and I was constantly confused about what was happening. This book could have greatly benefitted from a glossary because of all the new terminology and the types of magic and the gods, etc. From the first chapter we are introduced to these new fantastical concepts, but there were never any explanations, so I felt distanced from the story and confused the entire time I was reading it. There were lots of elements of this story that I should have loved: fantasy heist, Indiana Jones vibes, ancient tomb setting (supposedly; never got that far), revenge, fantasy religions, different types of magic, forbidden love, fake dating, and multiple POVs. But I honestly didn’t like anything about this book. I really really hate to say it but She Who Rides the Storm was nothing but a struggle for me and I cannot in good conscience recommend it. 

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