Saturday, February 10, 2024

Review: THE FAMILIAR by Leigh Bardugo


Rating: 3/5 stars

The Familiar was good, but nothing about it really wowed me. I enjoyed my time reading it, but it likely won’t be a standout or memorable book for me this year, sadly. 

I wish the setting was more prominent. If I didn’t know before starting this book that the story takes place in the 1600s during the Spanish Inquisition, I wouldn’t have been able to gather that information from the narrative. Maybe that’s just me being dumb though, because I have heard others mention the setting was a prominent feature. 

The entire book was rather slow-moving to me, and I do wish the pace had been faster. I felt the whole time I was reading that it was moving along very leisurely, and that frustrated me a bit. Especially when the plot picks up, the pace should too, but I personally feel that it did not. 

I felt rather emotionally distant from the entire story, including from the characters. All the characters outside of Luzia and Santángel fell flat for me, unfortunately, and I found myself not really caring what happened to any of them. I was most invested in Luzia of everyone. 

I really enjoyed Luzia as a protagonist though and thought she was deceptively strong-willed, which I love to see. She had a tiny bit of magic, which was cool too. Even though she had the ability to use some magic, this story definitely reads like a historical fiction and not like a fantasy though; the fantastical element is so small, found in just her tiny miracles and in the familiar’s immortality, but that's really it. 

I didn’t feel the chemistry between Luzia and Santángel at all. He seemed pretty creepy to me the whole novel, but love was clearly developing between them. When did he turn from the unsettling emaciated immortal creature to the handsome and loving man? 

I didn’t particularly care for Santángel as a love interest, but I do appreciate that Bardugo included a non-traditional love interest in this novel. I did enjoy learning about his backstory and why he is immortal though. In fact, that was the most captivating chapter of the whole book for me. 

The ending kind of came out of nowhere, and while I’m not sure yet if I liked it or not, I do appreciate it and the message it was communicating. I like that it wasn’t a conventional ending either, something both expected and unexpected at the same time. 

Maybe Leigh Bardugo’s writing style just isn’t for me. I have enjoyed the books I’ve read by her but I haven’t really loved any of them. I felt emotionally detached from The Familiar and from most of the characters, and I’m sad about that. I was prepared to love this book and have a great time reading it, but it was just a book that I read, no emotional strings attached, no significant impact on my life hereafter. I know many people are going to love this book though, and I wish I were one of those people too. It was fine, but that’s about it. 

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