After the publication of a salacious tell-all book, the remote city of Ilvernath is thrust into worldwide spotlight. Tourists, protesters, and reporters flock to its spellshops and ruins to witness an ancient curse unfold: every generation, seven families name a champion among them to compete in a tournament to the death. The winner awards their family exclusive control over the city’s high magick supply, the most powerful resource in the world.
In the past, the villainous Lowes have won nearly every tournament, and their champion is prepared to continue his family’s reign. But this year, thanks to the influence of their newfound notoriety, each of the champions has a means to win. Or better yet–a chance to rewrite their story.
As a frequent rereader, there are very few books that I don’t find more to love about them on a second, third, or even tenth read. Unfortunately, All of Us Villains is one in the minority that loses some of the magic on the second read.
The Lowes did not tell their children monster stories so that they could slay them.
The Lowes told them so their children would become monsters themselves.
I think I inflated the Alastair moments in my mind – his interactions with Isobel and Hendry are my favourites, and they seem much fewer and far between this time. I seem to have misremembered most of these characters as they are more juvenile and annoying than those fighting to the death have any right to be. There’s too much talking this time around – what happened to all the magick and curses and action?
Gavin tried to picture himself standing over Alistair’s body, watching the life drain from his eyes. Tried to believe that was what he wanted. But as he sat there, beside the mead he refused to drink, he couldn’t avoid the newfound knowledge that Alistair was more boy than monster—despite how much both of them pretended otherwise.
I reread All of Us Villains in preparation for finally getting around to reading All of Our Demise – whose name changed from Glory Spares None since I first read All of Us Villains as an eARC. Both titles suggest very dark things to come, as do the acknowledgments at the end:
you should know by now that villains tend to get what they deserve
so I can only hope to recapture some of the violent, terrible magic I lost on the reread. I know I did this to myself, but I’m still disappointed.
Alistair Lowe smiled, and the white of the Reaper’s Embrace crept a little farther up his skin. By the end of the morning, his hand was stained white with sins and red with blood.
Every tale of the Lowe family was deserved.
MY [ORIGINAL] REVIEW:
October 15, 2021
* Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. *
solid, good read:
‘Dark Hunger Games‘ is the description floating around that made me interested in reading All of Us Villains. While this seems a fairly apt description at first, All of Us Villains quickly becomes so much darker, and so much more than expected.
I didn’t particularly like any of these characters, but they each had their good moments. Let’s just say that the title is very accurate; they are all terrible people, trapped in a terrible cycle, forced to do terrible things. Well, actually, there is one fantastic character, but he’s separated from the others anyway as he is neither one of the chosen nor one who wants to be: Hendry is the fucking best. He’s just his chill, charming self, napping in graveyards and trying to make his brother smile.
At one point or another, I wanted each of the champions to win and for each of them to die horribly. The brainwashing done to them by their families, virtually from birth, to prepare for this tournament is psychopathic. Considering how long this has been going on, though, it’s likely the same was done to them as children, which would mean generations of transferred abuse and brainwashing. It’s easy to be mad at the parents (and grandparents) in All of Us Villains but they likely deserve empathy as well. Once again, everyone in this story is terrible (except Hendry), but a lot is working against them, making them this way. Generations of horrific actions with no end in sight; it’s no wonder the champions are not only prepared but willing to do morally indefensible things in the name of the tournament.
All of Us Villains starts at such an elevated level of violence and intensity, and it’s impressive that it manages to get darker, more violent, and more complex as the story continues. By the end, I was appalled by what was happening but entirely enthralled. This story is gory, depraved, and filled with so much desperation. You don’t have to like any of these people to want them to find a way to a better life than the one they’ve been given. The ending is incredibly abrupt, leaving the story heading in a direction I was not expecting, leaving me frustrated that I can’t just pick up the next book and keep reading. It looks like the next in the series, Glory Spares None, isn’t planned to be released until Fall 2022, and I do not know how I will wait that long. Fingers crossed for another eARC…