The Hand on the Wall continues straight off where The Vanishing Stair finished off. Stevie has solved the case and she now knows who Truly Devious is and who was behind Iris and Alice’s disappearance. At least, she thinks she has. After the latest tragedy with Dr Fenton it’s hard to concentrate on the past but she has a feeling that everything that is happening in the present has a connection to the past.
I liked that Stevie really maintains her curiosity and conviction throughout the series. Her commitment to the school and the mystery over the deaths both past and present really kept me engaged in the story line.
Some of David’s actions came across a little strange. After his beat down at the end of the last book and his subsequent disappearance felt a little off and weird. When we are given an explanation I didn’t quite find it believable in a way. His dad was always this imposing figure in the background during the course of the series and I’m not quite sure what his purpose was. He isn’t really present for a lot of the book and I don’t really think that whole plot line was necessary.
Once again I really enjoyed the camaraderie between all of the other students at the school, especially between Janene and Stevie. Their friendship I thought was quite special; Janene is so supportive of Stevie and understands her limits and Stevie even though she is all wrapped up in the mystery and unravelling the clues she will still always show up when Janene needs her.
The almost manic nature of Stevie’s thoughts mixed with the building anticipation over the course of the plot kept the pace quite fast. I was definitely surprised when Stevie explained who was behind everything and I was very much satisfied with the conclusion.
⭐️4/5 a solid ending to a very entertaining series!!
Vika is still coming to terms with her new position as the Imperial Enchanter and what that role now entails, Nikolai though he has escaped death is trapped in his dream world as a shadow and is trying to find a way back to reality and Pasha is struggling with the decisions he has made that has led them all to this moment.
Once again I found Pasha to be totally out of touch. He wallows in self pity after forcing the end of the game thus resulting in Nikolai’s death. He knew one of them wouldn’t survive and now he wants to mourn Nik but still try and pursue Vika after everything that happened. He repeatedly blows off all his responsibilities to go and get drunk and his sister has to step up and make all the decisions. I never really trusted Yuliana, for some reason I thought she would end up backstabbing Pasha and would try to take the crown for herself. I like that she proved me wrong and supported and maintained her loyalty to her brother.
Vika really showed her tenacity in this book with her refusal to fully comply with Pasha and Yuliana’s orders. The gold cuff that enforces her oath was a surprising obstacle that forced Vika to really think outside of the box to try and circumvent some of the more terrible orders Yuliana metes out. Though she always maintains her loyalty to the crown I appreciated how much she does to try and save Nikolai and doesn’t dismiss their history.
Nikolai’s character definitely experiences a monumental character shift. I was so glad that he didn’t die and I thought it was interesting how he became a shadow and the use of energy to bring him back to the world. I thought it was a nice tie back to his mother and the way she was able to escape death as well. I can’t say I enjoyed this new side of Nikolai after his is given his mother’s energy however; it was entertaining as it made him quite unpredictable.
The tone of the book was definitely a lot darker that the previous book which I appreciated. It showed a progression of the characters and added a layer of urgency to the plot. There is something about Russian settings and the atmosphere that just seem so magical and the traditional lore that makes an appearance raises the level of authenticity. The pacing increased progressively which kept me highly engaged throughout the course of the storyline and the ending even though it was a little anticlimactic gave me all the feels!
⭐️4/5 stars Magical, surprising & highly entertaining!
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.
Ari, bless him is just trying his best to get through the summer and high school and has to deal with a lot. His family keeps a lot of secrets and doesn’t communicate with each other very well. He is a little awkward and puts himself down a lot. He definitely undergoes quite the evolution over the course of the storyline and it was really gratifying to see him come into himself and accept his flaws and acknowledge what he needs to work on.
Dante was a very interesting character; he contrasts starkly with Ari but their dynamic just works so well together. He is very talkative, spouts random knowledge all the time and is almost overly emotional. I like that when he is away from Ari in Chicago he makes friends and goes and experiments, really reinforcing with himself who he is. The letters that he shared with Ari were incredibly personal and I like that he is open and honest enough to want to discuss these things with a friend instead of internalising everything like Ari tends to do.
I loved that we got to delve into the characters backstories and we learn a lot about their families. It makes the book as a whole a lot more relatable and engaging. There were stages at the start where the pacing was a little on the slower side. All we really had was angsty Ari overthinking everything and I kind of had to push myself to continue.
This was really a lovely, touching, sometimes hard hitting story about two boys coming of age and discovering their own identities. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next and I was extremely satisfied by the end!
⭐️4/5 stars just a truly lovely story
We dive straight back into the action in this final book of the Falling Kingdoms series. Jonah is trying to defy his destiny, Lucia will do absolutely anything to get her daughter back from Kyan, Amara heads back home to Kraeshia to be throned and Cleo and Magnus continue to fight to bring the kingdoms together.
Magnus’s arc over the course of the series was wonderful to read. I had a feeling his character would change drastically because of how he was portrayed in the first couple of books and I find he was definitely vindicated himself for his past actions. Also the fact that Cleo still chose to overlook those past deeds and just accept Magnus for the person he has shown her was lovely.
Cleo I feel I have steadily enjoyed but haven’t loved in the series. She was definitely a little too naïve and spoilt but through all of the difficulties she has had to face over the last year she has matured and shown a lot of restraint and poise.
I think I have the most thoughts and feelings about Lucia above all because she had such a drastic plot line in the series. I always thought she was an unlikeable character and that feeling didn’t really change over the course of the series. When her powers were drained by her daughter she finally realises how much she has relied on those powers and how non effective she is without them.
I honestly wouldn’t of been mad if this book had another 200-300 pages to really draw out the plot and build up the anticipation. The short length was something I always appreciated in the previous book because all you really get is all the action and manoeuvres that brought them to this moment. I would of loved go fully in depth with each character and get the minute details of everything that is happening.
I thought the pacing picked right back up and I was on the edge of my seat throughout my read. The ending did kind of wrap up quite conveniently but after the epic journey these characters embarked on back in the beginning of this series I was very content with how it ended!
⭐️5/5 WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS SERIES????
When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kngdom for her. Now she is beginning to question their decisions, especially how they handle the legacy of her father Leck, who who ruled through his Grace–a special talent for mind-altering–and his taste for darkness and violence.
I found Bitterblue to be way too cavalier as Queen of Monsea for the first half of the book. She was unaware of anything that was happening in her kingdom and feasted control over to her advisors who were able to manipulate her. The way she handled herself at the start of the book was almost infuriating. She ran off in the middle of the night to listen to stories and ignored the concerns of her kingdom hiding in paperwork for the rest of the day in her tower. She doesn’t assert her control enough for me and let everyone walk all over her. She isn’t relatable at all, she didn’t even realize how privileged she was until three quarters of the way through the book when she seen how so many of her countrymen were struggling. She does strive to better herself and her kingdom though which I think is honourable, I just feel like it should of happened a lot sooner.
I just didn’t feel like there was enough Saf in the story for me. For the first 100 or so pages we don’t really learn much about him and what his purpose in the story is. He and Bitterblue continue to keep secrets from each other and don’t communicate well at all so the fact that they fall in love boggled my mind a little bit. I just didn’t think the romance aspect needed to happen at all. He was an interesting character though and I liked that we delved a little deeper into his backstory as the plot progressed.
It was nice having Katsa and Po come in and out of the story. It had been quite a few years since I read Graceling so it was nice to reacquaint myself with those characters.
I found the entire plot to be a little boring to be totally honest. There wasn’t really any stakes that kept me engaged in the storyline. It was basically just Bitterblue walking around her castle deciphering codes and reading books, trying to figure out who was lying to her and scheming against her, which I think was pretty obvious from the start…
⭐️2/5 I’m glad I read it, didn’t really enjoy though…