I will say right away that, yes, Auren is still very annoying. Her neverending ‘poor me‘ monologue makes it very difficult to continue reading. But, I have to admit this series is getting better.
As much as I struggle through Auren’s perspective, the queen’s isn’t any better. She takes Gildy-locks’ victim attitude and adds victim blaming. I can understand hating Midas; that’s totally fair. He’s been the clear villain from his first introduction in Gild. But why do you hate the abused teenager with no family or choice who has been literally locked in a cage? Why are you competing and tormenting and rejoicing at her likely rape, torture, and death? Not that I’d expect any logic or empathy from royalty, but it was incredibly difficult to read the queen’s chapters and feel anything other than disgust.
Once again, the biggest downfall is the pacing and the editing. I don’t mind a slow burn, but the monotonous tone and repetitive narrative make it difficult to care about what’s happening. There’s a way to show how poorly Auren has been treated and how it has affected her self-esteem and confidence, and self-worth without repeating the same pattern in every chapter. ‘I have to be stronger,’ ‘I will stay loyal,’ ‘I’m starting to question my life,’ ‘I will do this because it feels right,’ ‘I made a mistake,’ ‘I take it all back,’ ‘I deserve this,’ ‘I have to be stronger.’ Every chapter has the same pattern, with the same words and actions and decisions. Show, don’t tell, and have some confidence in your readers; if you keep holding my hand through every decision and painting a clear line from one moment to the next, there’s no anticipation or excitement and certainly no surprise.
Better than Gild, but not quite good, I’m embarrassed to say I have high hopes for Gleam. After the ending and some realisations (finally) being made by a certain (incredibly unobservant) character (who has been living in denial for far too long), there’s some hope this could get really good. Here’s hoping I won’t regret saying or thinking that too quickly.