Book Review: Castle of Lies (DNF – 2/5)

Thelia isn’t in line to inherit the crown, but she’s been raised to take power however she can. She’s been friends with Princess Corene her whole life, and she’s scheming to marry Bayled, the heir to the throne. But her plans must change when an army of elves invades the kingdom. Thelia, her cousin Parsival, and Corene become trapped in the castle. An elf warrior, Sapphire, may be Thelia’s only hope of escape, but Sapphire has plans of their own. Meanwhile, an ancient magic is awakening within the castle, with the power to destroy the whole kingdom. Can Thelia find a way to protect her future–and her life?

I tried to like this book. I made it 60%, and I realized that I was pushing myself to finish. I had little desire to find out what happened. I looked on Goodreads to see what others had said, you know, to see if others had the same feelings as I did and to see if maybe there was some plot twist that would make the book worth it.

That’s when I discovered that Castle of Lies has an average rating of 2.68; 50% of the current readers have given this book 2 stars. While it felt good to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about this book, I decided to DNF.

Okay, so let’s talk about the things this book did well.

  • It was a quick read. I read that 60% in like…three days? Maybe?
  • It wasn’t overly wordy. The writing itself wasn’t terrible. The story moved along.
  • And…the cover was pretty?
  • Sapphire’s being they-them (though I question their sudden understanding of English pronouns after claiming not to have a grasp on the language.)

What I didn’t like:

  • literally everything else
  • the thoughts of incest (one character masturbates to the thought of his cousin)
  • threats of rape and violent that felt really out of nowhere, and the undertones of domestic abuse that came across as if the author was condoning it, and it really rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe that changed toward the end. I won’t find out.
  • the characters
  • the plot (super vague)
  • the world building (or lack of)
  • lack of emotional impact within the writing or emotional context to support why the characters are acting/thinking they way they are.

The characters were so utterly unlikable. I didn’t care if Thelia or Percy survived. I didn’t care if Corene married the guy she wanted because she was a totally B. I didn’t care if the elves killed everybody.

Sapphire and Bayled were more likable, mostly because they showed space to grow as people and learn. They showed they were capable of character development.

The writing style felt more like a middle grade book, really simple sentences and little emotional narration that would have allowed a deeper view into the characters and the plot, BUT the violence and drinking and language (F-Bomb was dropped several times) tried really hard to up the rating of this book.

I want to complain about how often these TEENAGERS are drunk in the 60% that I read. They’re always drinking. I don’t have kids, but this isn’t something young readers need to think is okay for them to do.

The plot…I’m not sure what the plot is. The elves want to clean the magic from the Holy Kingdom. That’s all I know. You’d think I’ve have a better understanding after more than half of the book, but I don’t.

The world building was lacking. There was very little. If only the magic and characters had been as fleshed out as the map in the beginning. I don’t know how magic works in this world, only that it does stuff sometimes that just so happens to be needed for plot advancement.

Overall, this book felt like a middle grade fantasy trying to be more like Game of Thrones. I can’t give Castle of Lies more than two stars. It was…okay, but it was not by any means good. I did not enjoy it, and I have too many other books waiting to be read to spend time reading one that I don’t like.

(insert unhappy face gif, maybe a sad puppy)

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