Today’s belated review is of Thief of Spring. Katherine Macdonald teased this book for some damn long on Twitter I thought I was going to lose my mind waiting for it. So of course I snagged up an ARC basically immediately and am reviewing it for you here despite the fact that I literally just reviewed an ARC for Of Snow and Scarlet a few weeks ago. I have so many thoughts so let’s get into it. As always these views are opinions are my own and I am not being compensated for this review–I simply had access to the book early.
Heads up, there’s a (very minor, in my opinion) spoiler in the Worldbuilding section, so read at your own discretion.
OH. MY. GOSH. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Let me just say that Rebecca F. Kenney does some of the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen. Just… just look at it! It’s so rich in detail without overwhelming the text or making it difficult to read. The font is just… ugh. It’s so pretty. I notice something new literally every time I look at it. It KILLS me to know I still have to wait a while for the paperback.
Side note, I have a cover I bought from Kenney for an upcoming WIP (which one is a secret) and it is also to die for. Seriously, if you’re an indie looking for an affordable and gorgeous cover for fantasy/romance/speculative type stuff, check out Kenney’s work. She’s also a very gifted storyteller herself and has some awesome stuff on her Patreon, so check her out here.
5 teaspoons for exterior cover.
I have a digital ARC that is not the final formatting, so I’m going to skip this section at this time. I’ll give an update once I have a physical copy. There’s going to be a few books I need to do this for, so I may just do one big post of ARC follow-ups. I don’t expect there to be any issues; I have yet to see major formatting problems in any of Macdonald’s books.
This is one of the things that really got me. Of course this is a Hades and Persephone retelling (of which there are fifty million out there) but Macdonald brings her own twist to it by blending Greek mythology with the fairies of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. It’s a fascinating mash-up that really drew me in. Also, the idea of Hades as some poor, tortured young man is also a twist (although I have seen similar Hades-is-misunderstood type retellings numerous times). 5 teaspoons for Premise.
As she so often does, Macdonald gives us a sweet, tortured soul of a love interest for our main character to swoon over. Slowly. Very slowly. Hades is a sweet young man with a lot of pain in his past. Frankly, I think it’s amazing he’s turned out as well as he has, given his upbringing. He was a delight to read about, especially when trying to get around the whole fae-can’t-lie problem.
Early in the story I at times I found Persephone a little… I don’t know if grating is the right word. I did grow to like her as the story progressed. She definitely found some spunk and backbone that was initially missing. Her frantic hobbies while trapped in the Underworld were quite relatable.
The affection that develops between Sephy and Hades is sweet and believable. It–thankfully–lacks any strong Stockholm syndrome-y feelings that can be common in retellings of this particular myth.
The side cast was also very interesting. I really want more of Hades’s relationship with his brother Ares. I really hope to see that developed on more in the sequel.
Characters are 4 teaspoons for me.
The whole faeries meets greek gods thing actually really, really worked. I was surprised at how well that worked. It was believable that these names of gods would become titles passed down from one fae to the next. I also liked how some of the old tales are sort of subverted, especially with Hera knocking out Zeus to become Zera.
The elements of the worldbuilding that I think I struggled with the most was how seemingly too easy life in the Underworld was at times. I don’t think there was enough consequences to the magic that Hades was using.
I give worldbuilding 4 teaspoons.
I think this is the one place where the book was a bit of a let down for me. The major events of the plot are awesome. There’s plenty of surprises and twists. However, much of this book moved at a snail’s pace for me. Unlike previous works of Macdonald’s that devoured in a day and had trouble setting down, I frequently found myself struggling to focus on Thief of Spring.
The romance is definitely slow-burn (I don’t think we get honest kisses till about 75% of the way through), and I can appreciate that. It just seems like the rest of the plot was also slow burn.
Plot for me is 3 teaspoons. It was entertaining at times, but my mind definitely wandered in a way it did not with Of Snow and Scarlet or A Song of Sea and Shore.
As always, Macdonald’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. She manages to bring me past something I am not a fan of, which is present tense (although 1st person present is far, far more palatable to me than 3rd. We’ll talk about that in a different review).
I’m not a huge fan of the pop culture references. Those have a way of aging a book that could otherwise be somewhat timeless. I don’t know, that’s a thing that’s just not for me.
Overall, I give the style and writing 4 teaspoons.
I don’t quite want to say that Thief of Spring was a 3 for me overall. It was definitely more than a 3, but when compared to other works by the same author it just didn’t stand up as well in my opinion. Averaging out my rankings and wrestling with myself, I have to give it a 4 but not the same ringing endorsement that I would give A Song of Sea and Shore or Of Snow and Scarlet. It’s good. It’s enjoyable. If you really, really love slow slow burn and books that are very focused on the actual romance and soft moments then you are going to love Thief of Spring.
Please don’t be mad at me, Twitter.