I didn't know whether to review this book or not, because I've DNF'd the series at the 35% mark of book two. That being said, it's a brilliant series from what I've read so far. So fuck it, I'm going to review it anyway. For the purpose of this review, I'm only going over book one content. And I want to point out that I'm only DNfing because this isn't the right read for me at the moment, not because it's a terrible book. I might come back to it later.
PLOT AND ROMANCE
Mera, our leading lady, is a shifter who's been shunned by her entire pack for the sins of her father. She's hurt, alone, and fighting the world. And then she has her first turning and mates to the Alpha's son, the future Alpha. Nope. Nuh-uh. Not happening. He rejects her straight away, forces her to watch while he fucks his girlfriend, and then she goes mental, releases some unknown dark magic into the world, and is rescued by Shadow Beast. Cue plot. He's the god of their kind, but everyone assumed he was just a legend or a regular religious symbol, not, like, a legit being. Shadow Beast takes her to his realm, which is a library with doors to many realms, and together their try to break into his home realm, which has been sealed off for thousands of years.
Mera is a lovable character who generally tries really hard to manage things on her own without complaining about it.
Shadow Beast is hot. Sizzling hot.
Angel becomes her best friend, and she's AMAZING! Reminds me a lot of Maise from the TV show Lucifer.
The world building is freaking awesome (more on this later).
Uber slow. Nearly DNFd at the beginning, but I kept going because I knew it was supposed to be good. Took until 33% for me to get into the story.
Complete lack of steam despite the cover (more on this in a second).
This is a slow burn. And I mean slow. There's one undetailed sex scene in this first book (which is circumstantially forced) that's glossed over. That's it. Personally, as beautiful as this cover is, it doesn't match the heat level of this series at all. I imagined steamy, maybe erotic, from this cover, but it reads more like a YA Fantasy Romance. And I was more than a little disappointed by this. I don't mind clean romance (it's honestly rather refreshing), but if a cover looks like this and doesn't deliver, I'm going to be upset that it's not meeting my expectation.
Mera is a hard-working character with a really 'I might as well do this myself' kind of attitude that I found refreshing. I also love her hair; it's red that fades into white. How cute is that? She's also a little crazy and doesn't get riled by things often.
Shadow Beast is . . . closed off, hot, dominating, and more than a little standoffish. It's clear he doesn't socialise. He's a bit cliche, but I love him. You can tell he really cares about Mera but doesn't want to show it. But he's also distracted by opening the door to his home realm, which means he can be a little selfish sometimes. Okay, a lot. But sue me, I love assholes in romance (just not the overly controlling kind).
OMG, this is some of the best world building I've read in years! Seriously, this is up there as some of my favourite fantasy worlds, alongside the Chronicles of Ixia, Folk of the Air, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter. It's THAT good.
This world is divided into realms, with Earth being one of those realms. You have the faerie realm, which we get to visit, the shadow realm, Earth, and a few others we don't get to see (from what I've read so far). And they're all connected by the library. The library belongs to Shadow Beast, but he lets other beings visit, some of whom run things for him, whenever they like. So it's become a bit of a waypoint for many beings from all over the realms. There's lots of varying types of magic, creatures, and all kinds of imaginings. It's VERY creative. It's not a rehash with a unique spin, it's not based on legends or myths, it's like a Tolkien. Created completely from scratch.
It's worth reading just for the world building alone.
Overall, this has decent writing. But there were consistent errors throughout that I doubt many readers noticed because they're not typos or other obvious errors. Missing commas from independent coordinating conjunctions, erroneous paragraphing in places, and some sentence fragmentation (which might be a style choice). So, as I said, nothing that will stop your flow, but enough to annoy grammar nerds. Still passable writing, though, that I mostly enjoyed.