This is my first book by Astrid Scholte, and I tend to really enjoy a good YA fantasy especially with unique magic systems. So when the folks from Penguin Teen asked if I wanted to read an early copy, of course I jumped at the opportunity.
Part courtroom drama, part jailbreak/heist, League of Liars follows Cayder as his sister is put on trial for using Edem. Edem, the magic system, uses shadows from ‘the Veil’ to power itself and once used marks itself upon the users with tattoos related to the usage. It’s illegal to use Edem and easy to put someone one trial for using, as the magic has specific marks for how it’s used. Sounds super interesting! Except, we never fully get a good understanding of the way the magic system works. Part of that is because the characters themselves don’t know, but regardless the system itself is presented only at a surface level.
After the trial, the story diverges from the courtroom drama and turns into a jailbreak adventure but that doesn’t happen until we’re at least 2/3rds of the way through the story. For being advertised as a jailbreak story, you would think we’d get a bit more excitement and adventure. Instead, the ‘plan’ seems basic and reading about it was fairly lackluster.
And then we come to the ending. The story is completely unfinished. The setup is all there for this to turn into a series, but the shear amount of loose ends and plot hole has left me unsatisfied and less than enthusiastic for a follow up book. I still don’t really understand the magic system, the world building leaves a reader wanting, and honestly I don’t really care what happens to our main characters because none of them really stand out other than making dumb decisions.
While the premise sounds great, League of Liars is ambitious to say the least. It reminds me of Six of Crows only because of the elaborate prison escape/heist whatever it is, but it barely compares to Bardugo’s writing. I know this is suppose to be YA, but the writing is juvenile, the ideas don’t seem fully flushed out, and the characters are 2 dimensional at best. Even though it’s been a while since I was a teen, I still enjoy a well written YA book, and this is not it.
League of Liars comes out February 22, 2022. Huge thank you to Putnam for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.
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