Gates of Thread and Stone
by Lori M. Lee
Read: August 22 - September 3, 2014
Published: August 5, 2014 by Skyscape
Source: NetGalley (Thank you, Skyscape!)
Category: Fantasy, Magic, YA
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone book 1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
Book description: In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.
In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where shecame from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.
Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
When Kai's beloved adopted brother, and only family, Reev, goes missing, she will stop at nothing to find him. Believing Reev to be taken by the mysterious Black Rider, Kai sets out on a mission to get him back. Joining Kai on her journey is her shopkeeper friend with a reputation, Avan, as well as her own power to control time, which Kai doesn't really understand. Kai has no idea what she's about to learn about herself and her world.
A list of thought:
1) This book surprised me! The plot meandered a bit in places, but it wasn't predictable, and kept me engaged to the end. I do love discovering that what you and the characters knew at the start of a story is only one small tiny thing compared to what was really going on. This world is a lot different than I ever imagined at the start, and the elements of the plot that I didn't understand at first made a lot more sense once I got to the end.
2) Kai was determined to rescue her brother and unwilling to be distracted, which I very much admired. But that was also her fatal flaw, because she was so mono-focused that other parts of her character suffered. Namely, her sense at times, as well as other relationships (mostly with Avan). I wanted to see more about her ability to manipulate time too, though we do eventually get some answers, and I hope it will come up a lot more in the next book.
3) Avan was endlessly supportive of Kai. It was wonderful that she had a friend who cared for her unconditionally and would do anything to help and protect her. Too bad it took her a long time to realize this. I also wanted to hear from Avan more. Most of what we know about Avan was told to us by Kai, and the majority of it rumors. His actions towards Kai - always being there for her no matter how she acted - spoke volumes of his character, but I wanted him to open up his walls to her, and actually hear from him. Especially, since Kai spent so much time thinking about Avan's past reputation and how it compared to her lack of experience. Though I'll admit that Kai wasn't really that open and welcoming about sharing either.
4) This world and all of its terms and various concepts, creatures and beings confused me. I needed a glossary and map to help me navigate it all. Ninu, Kahl Ninu, Ninurta, Mahjo, Istar, Irra, Kalla, Etu Gahl, Sentinels, Watchman, Rebirth, Grays, Gargoyles, Energy Stones, The Black Rider, the Void, Labyrinth, and the White Court, plus all the districts. It was a lot, and I still struggle to categorize and figure out how it fits together. It was complicated, but I also don't feel like I have enough of a picture to understand it all. I hope the author considers a glossary of terms at the start of the next book, at least.
5) Romance is important to me, and I didn't love this one. I do love the slow burn build-up between two people, but Kai and Avan took so long to realize each other's interest and to do anything about it that it became uncomfortable. Although these two spent most of the book together, Kai was determined to stay focused on her brother, and Avan was tiptoeing around her. Because of this, their relationship stalled a long time in an in-between awkward place, where they thought a lot about each other, but didn't do anything about it. They had lots of careful interactions where they didn't talk, or skirted around how they really felt. The whole thing gave me a headache, and didn't produce the swoons when they finally acknowledged that they did like each other.
6) Then to make the everything more stressful, another boy is introduced midway through this story who shows interest in Kai. She doesn't reciprocate, but that doesn't mean something won't happen in the future. The last thing Kai and Avan's precarious romance needs is a love triangle, especially considering what happens at the end of this book.
7) I'm undecided about continuing this series. If there is a triangle, I won't be going forward, obviously. If there's not one, I'm more interested in seeing where this story leads next. However, I'll admit to being stressed about another book centered around Kai/Avan angst, which felt like the thread underlying the entire plot. I really want to feel good about these two as a pair, but what happens at the end of this book did not really excite me.
Love Triangle Factor: None.
Potential for future triangles: Could go either way. Low-Medium
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium