The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A.K. Larkwood
ARC received via NetGalley for an honest review.
Publish Date: February 11, 2020
When I’m reading a book there are so many times I think to myself, “this would be a good part to put in my review” or “I definitely have a strong feeling about how this went down”… But then when it finally comes time to actually write the review, my mind goes completely blank. I’m over here wondering who the main characters were again? And how did it end exactly? Even though I just finished it, my mind can’t wrap around what exactly I was thinking would be so perfect to write about only days ago. So then I put it off and now here I am weeks later still not knowing exactly what I want to say. So bear with me a little bit, I’m going to do my best for this review.
I think the strongest feeling I have for this book is that it was a really slow and confusing read for most of the book. Looking back on my notes, it didn’t actually start picking up until about the 75% mark. In fact, had it not been for the last 1/4 of the book, I don’t think I would have given this even a three star rating. It felt like I was waiting for something big to happen or to feel connected with the characters in some way but it was all I could do just to follow along with the story. The large ten year gap in time between sections didn’t help either. Csorwe, our main character, is apparently a badass sword wielding assassin after we see her again ten years later, but I think that skipping her journey to become this instead of the meek sacrifice to the Nameless One was a big mistake on the author’s part. This gap in time only made me feel even less connected with the characters and I was just supposed to take it for what it was that she knew how to suddenly kick ass and kill expertly.
Another note I had was that there was too much going on with the setting and plot. I couldn’t decide if it was all fantasy, or if there was some science fiction thrown in there? At first it seemed like it was all fantasy elements but then there were flying ships which felt really sci-fi. There are characters with tusks, wizards, religious zealots. And the names! I got so lost trying to remember all these extremely difficult and hard to remember names! I had to write down most of them so I could keep who’s who straight in my mind, as if I wasn’t already reading at a slow enough pace. It came down to there being just too many different elements going on to try and wrap it all up neatly in a package of less than 500 pages. I can imagine if this was an epic fantasy that we slowly got to learn about each race and species of living creature and the planet system and how things work in the big picture, but when trying to be concise, we are left with a really confusing jumble of ideas that just aren’t fleshed out enough to be convincing or relatable or even entertaining enough to want to know more about. Honestly, if it could have all flowed like the last 1/4 of the book, I would have easily given this five stars. It’s like once we had a clear direction for the story to progress towards, it took off. Things started making sense. The characters became likable and hateable, respectively. I think that the last part of the book could be the only reason I would even consider picking up the second book when its published.
I don’t want this to be a bash on the book at all. Like I said above, I actually really enjoyed the ending. Its so different from the rest of the book it almost feels like two different people wrote the book and switched half way through. Maybe at that point I was finally getting used to the writing style, and the character names and just the whole flow of it in general, but it really felt like a shift in the writing. I think that I won’t write this book and its companions off just yet. It might be worth another read (skimming over the beginning a bit) but I might check out the second book and see if it is anything like the last part of this one and if it is, maybe that could save this series for me. I just know that there are a lot of other amazing books out there that I am looking forward to reading before I take this leap again. I hope that this book is perfect for someone else out there though and that its just the right amount of everything they love in one book.
If you liked this book:
If you liked The Unspoken Name, and are looking for something with a similar feel to it then I have selected Crown of Coral and Pearl as a really good follow up. My reasoning behind picking this book is that there is a similar theme of young women who have been chosen to fulfill certain traditions that have been held for so long that they are upheld year after year without objection. But when the time comes to give their lives to their chosen fates, these fierce females stand up for themselves and realize that just because they are told that they have to become something doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. And just because something has been done a certain way for as long as can be remembered, doesn’t mean that its the right way it should be done.
Any other fellow readers out there who have also read this? Similar feelings? I’d love to discuss it!! Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!! Hope you’re loving your reading choices so far this year!! Happy Reading!