Genres: New Adult, NA Fantasy, Fantasy | Release Date: 19 July 2022 | Series: These Hollow Vows | Series Book: #2 | Pages: 427 | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Review
It felt like I’d been counting down to the release date of These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan for ages! It wasn’t *actually* ages, but it sure felt like it (and I’m dramatic that way). This finale in the These Hollow Vows duology was everything I could ever want in a NA fantasy. I will admit this felt like a NA fantasy to me, rather than a YA, but for other readers it probably straddles the line. So what were we promised in this instalment?
Well it’s a given that we were going to encounter heartbreak and hard choices. And although you always hope there’ll be a HEA (Happily Ever After), I never count on it until I’ve reached the last page. Abriella is now fae, something she had never wanted to be. Her power is immense, but so is her fear and despair… And while Sebastian tries to persuade her his actions are forgivable, Abriella continues to struggle with her feelings for Finn (yet another male fae who thought he knew what was best for her). The Queen is out to capture Abriella, and the Unseelie Court is dying. The only solution is to seek Queen Mab in the Underworld, to find a way to restore the balance of power. But will Abriella survive this journey? Why is Finn getting weaker? And can Sebastian be trusted to go up against his mother?
Abriella’s journey is one of chaos and uncertainty, with no guarantee of happiness. I might be heartless for saying it, but I liked that Lexi does this to her readers in These Twisted Bonds. I never want to be sure that everything will be sunshine and happiness for the heroine, because that makes for a boring read. This NA fantasy was anything but boring! Plus, I have read many stories which feature Mab and this had a lovely little deviation from my normal reads. She’s still a powerful fae, but there are some tweaks to the interaction in this story and I enjoyed the difference.
Lexi makes sure that even though this is very much a character driven story, the plot isn’t neglected. There are enough breadcrumbs along the way to make this a riveting read, particularly with fae children going into the Long Sleep. There’s no promise that the children will wake again, and the big emotions of love and loss are like vibrant colours across the pages of this novel.
In These Twisted Bonds, Abriella must accept her darkness. I really liked the idea of this, because there’s so much pressure on people to strive for ‘perfection’. But in this fantasy? Mab tells her to let go of that control, to let her shadows come out to play. It was so refreshing to read this; we can’t always be good or perfect. And truthfully it’s crazy to expect that we can be! Give me the reality over an illusion any day. So it had to be a happiness boost, because nobody is completely ‘good’ and perfect. I like that Abriella certainly isn’t.
I don’t have a downside with the story itself, as I thoroughly enjoyed These Twisted Bonds! But my paperback edition did have a few little gremlins, with missing (or added) words amongst the pages. You don’t normally get that, particularly with a big publisher behind it, so it was a downside for me.
These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan is the perfect ending to the fantasy duology of These Hollow Vows, and it’s a story I’ll love for a long time to come. There are sacrifices, perilous adventures and heartbreak in this novel. It delivered a lot of emotion, and it took me a while to come down from my book high! I really encourage you to read this if you love YA/NA fantasy featuring devious fae and immense power plays with magic. Happy reading, glitterbugs!
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I felt so betrayed at the ending of the first book. Not just for the massive betrayals by the Princes, but that there was no resolution. I had to remind myself constantly to not think of it as two books, but as two halves of one book, with an intermission of months. The wait was worth it for me. The characters were delightfully nuanced, with far deeper plot than the first. I would definitely not be comfortable giving these books to anyone under 16, and even then, maybe not for a couple more years.
Oh the ending to the first book was a massive moment of angst wasn’t it! So glad you also thought the wait was worth it; I loved how things were wrapped up in These Twisted Bonds. Definitely agree that this is not for a younger crowd, I know some people might think so, but for me it’s NA fantasy for sure.