This was a really good series. I think listening to the audio elevated it even more, really brought the characters, especially Nathan, to life. I know I don’t sound very enthusiastic, but that’s only because this book feels too heavy to throw in a bunch of exclamation points when talking about it.
I can say all the same things I’ve said about the other books. All the characters were interesting and felt real. The dynamic between Nathan and Gabriel was imperfect but loyal and deep and I loved it. The story kept my attention. There was lots of magic. The audiobook narration by Carl Prekopp was fantastic.
And most of all, Nathan was such a well-written character, and I felt so immersed in his POV. And he felt believable. After everything he’d been through, he was fucked up. I don’t think he was a bad person though. Yes, he became pretty inured to killing, but he only wanted to kill the bad people. And anyone would be fucked up after going through the things he’d been through.
But I want to talk about the ending now.
Here’s a somewhat vague spoiler: *SPOILER* You shouldn’t read this if you want a book that is a happily ever after escape from the bad things in life. *END SPOILER*
And here’s a full-blown “this is exactly what happens” spoiler:
*SPOILER* Gabriel is killed, and a few years later, Nathan, still unable to deal with losing the person he loved, uses his shifting ability to turn himself into a tree near Gabriel’s grave because magic is connected to the earth and maybe this way he can, in some way, be with Gabriel again. Or something like that. And I get it, why some people don’t like that ending. It wasn’t necessary. They could’ve lived and had a nice life together, and it wouldn’t have changed how anything played out in the end. That’s what Nathan deserved after the hell he’d been through in life.
But things don’t have to be “necessary” to be in a story. This was the author’s story. And I can accept it because I feel like it was an ending that was earned (not by Nathan, but by the story itself). I don’t think it came out of nowhere just to try and make readers cry or to teach some forced lesson, which is how I’ve felt about some books. If anything, I think perhaps the message was simply that sometimes bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it. Because there are shitty people in the world. And it’s unfair. And it sucks. It fucking SUCKS. But it happens. That was sort of the message throughout the whole book. Maybe I’m projecting a lot. But quite frankly that’s a message that speaks to me, and it’s one I actually rarely find in books. So when it’s done well, I appreciate it.
And it felt very believable how traumatized and not ok Nathan was, both before and after Gabriel’s death. And deciding to become a tree made sense in the realm of the book, the way magic worked, or at least the way Nathan felt it worked for him. He was always connected to the earth.
So this ending was tragic. And yes, I would’ve enjoyed it had it ended happy. But I also appreciate an ending that shows the reality that sometimes things don’t turn out ok. And as far as tragic endings go, this one felt right. To me, at least. *END SPOILER*
So yeah! I don’t know. There’s not a lot I can say about this book in particular without spoilers. Just really well-written characters and immersive writing and lots of feels.
*Rating: 4.5 Stars //Read Date: 2023 // Format: Audiobook*
Fans of Books 1 and 2 in Sally Green's Half Bad Trilogy. Anyone who likes heavy stories, characters who've been through some shit, strong character voice, queer love, and witches.