Author: Lori M. Lee
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone, #1
Published: August 5th 2014
Source: Publisher for review
In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
As voracious readers, we’ve learned to fear debut authors combined with gorgeous covers. It’s a Pavlovian reflex of sorts: see a pretty cover, get a panic attack and run. But the very conditioned response that keeps us away from sad excuses for literature could do some serious damage in this case. Why? Because Gates of Thread and Stone is more than just a pretty cover. It’s perhaps one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year.
All the unexpected developments lying in wait are just one of the things to admire about Gates of Thread and Stone. Its most admirable quality might just be the intricacy and richness of Kai’s world. Or it could be our Kai herself, stubborn and brave, timid but fierce, smart but not overconfident.
I’ve been completely surprised by the fierce love and protectiveness I felt for Kai from the start. She has a story that’s certainly difficult to forget: she was abandoned when she was eight years old, floating in the river with no memories, only to be rescued by an older boy who then took care of her like she was his own sister. But her tragic past and her upbringing in poverty didn’t make her stand out for me. It was her spirit, her fierce loyalty and unconditional love and her unfailing sense of right and wrong.
The mythology in this book is as original as it is surprising. It wasn’t until the end, when I had a full picture in front of me, that I really started to appreciate what Lori M. Lee has done. There are a few things that are familiar, yes, but even they often go in unexpected directions. As for the very nature of Kai’s journey and her fight, I should say that it wasn’t easy to guess at all. I knew exactly what Lee wanted me to know at any given moment and not a thing more.
The only thing that could have been done differently is the romance. Kai and Avan have a fabulous bond and an undeniable chemistry. But they are both prone to dancing around their issues, never speaking things out loud and making all the wrong assumptions. Her feelings for Avan are the only thing Kai is truly afraid of, the only challenge she constantly avoids and even hides from. A part of it can be written off as inexperience, but there were moments that smelled of pure cowardice.
In everything else, though, they were both admirably strong. I enjoyed their journey, colored by their past and years of friendship and admiration from afar. I felt that Kai learned something from every experience, and while she had a hard time admitting her mistakes out loud, she was unfailingly honest to herself.
Shut down the warning signals in your heads that tell you to run away from too pretty covers. This is one book you’ll be very proud to own.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.
Stop by The Nocturnal Library on August 12th for a Q&A with Lori M. Lee.