Gates of Thread and Stone – Book Review
Book Review: Gates of Thread and Stone
Author: Lori M. Lee
I am not entirely certain how I feel this book. It was not what I expected when I started it. Of course that brings up the question of what did I expect?
Well, I thought there would be more of a discovery of magic. I thought there would be greater discussion of the relationship between the main lead, Kai and her adopted brother Reev. I certainly expected the book to stay within the city. In that way, I thought there would be more exploration of the city.
Even now I am struggling to find the words to describe the book. Was the writing to indistinct? Is this a reflection of an underdeveloped world? Or, did I fail to engage as a reader? Was I not paying sufficient attention?
Written in the first person we follow Kai’s journey of self-discovery as she learns about her biological parents (at least her father) while trying to rescue her adopted brother. There was a number of elements that made this story feel familiar. The relationship between Kai and Reev reminded me strongly of Kaylin and Severn in the Chronicles of Elantra. I think it was the adoption of the female lead by the very protective, brother-figure with undertones or suggestions of something else that made that connection for me.
The relationship between Avan and Kai was reminiscent of another young adult story I read where both characters turned out to be magical-humans. This seemed stronger later when with the introduction of G-10, who also seemed highly attracted to Kai. And this brings me to the first element of disappointment. The manner in which the three males and really only characters to receive significant development, all appear to fall for the charms of our main female lead. It was a little cliched. While this might not be so terrible depending on how the story plays out. This was book one in the series, and I can certainly foresee the setup of love triangles. But I could be doing the author an injustice. Perhaps, this story will bare more in common with a College of Magics and the leading couple will accept the overwhelming changes brought by the final acts of the book and not enter more expected romantic entanglements.
I think the second thing I would like to comment on is the overused idea that characters are stronger when they can fight, physically an opponent. The fact that Kai’s greatest achievement is killing another individual is ultimately boring. It makes the pacing of the story rather bland as the story becomes a laundry list of places to go and people to meet. It is very linear. Go to set-piece A, learn X, which causes you to access set-piece B. I suppose because this took us out of the city without really spending as much time exploring the city.
Yes, I am sure some people would argue that a great deal of time was spent in different districts of the city. True, but it did not develop, not really. The setting was a strange creation and very confusing. It needed more attention, more exploration to be anything other than the unstructured mess in the background.
My problem rests on the uncertainty of where this story takes place. There are a number of teasing references which lead me to suppose the Gates of Thread and Stone is supposed to take place in a post-apocalyptic future. Except, their recent past is not our present. It takes place in some world rich in magic and technology common to steampunk fantasy. It includes a random assortment of our ancient gods who hold power and manipulate the setting. It left me unsettled as I could not reconcile the regular allusions to our world with the magic and steampunk-like elements of the book’s world. Is this supposed to be some futuristic version of our reality? Am I really missing a better understanding of the book because I am not conversant in world religions?
I think a greater development of the world in which the Gates of Thread and Stone take place would have grounded the story. The city should have been treated like a character and developed and explored in more detail. Instead, what I have pieced together, leaves me with a sour taste.
So, while in many ways I think it was interesting, with mostly competent writing, I would give the Gates of Thread and Stone a 3 out of 5. I do not this book, but I cannot hate either. It was okay. But perhaps other readers have found more in its pages to recommend it more highly.