Book Review – The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
I ran, well walked but very quickly, to my local bookstore to pick up this book on publication day! I even did a cute little reel (my first one!) on my insta which you can check out: @mariamsbookmark
This book is EVERYTHINGGG… Honestly one of the best that I read this year and reminded me, as if I needed reminding, why it was my most anticipated release this autumn! I loved it so much that I read it all in one sitting, no breaks for the bathroom or food or anything… even after I finished it, I sat there quietly staring at the wall, panicking on the inside about how I have to wait another year for the next one 😢
It will be really hard to do this review without spoilers but I will try my absolute best. You definitely have to read this series if you haven’t already!
I did a review on the first book here: Book Review – Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
Note: this is a non-spoilery review
The story picks up where the first one leaves off immediately. After the tragic event at the end of Once Upon a Broken Heart, Evangeline is trying to find a way to bring her poisoned husband out of his frozen state. Despite her efforts to find a cure that doesn’t land her to trusting Jacks again – the one guy she CANNOT trust again – she finds her back against the wall when another curse is set on her and her husband, who is now hunting to kill her. The only way to break the curse is to help Jacks unlock an ancient archway that many want closed forever. She has to find a way to save the man she believes she should love, try to avoid the tempting lure of Jacks, and stay alive… which is seeming hard for her as everyone wants her dead…
Evangeline: I still loved her in this book despite the amount of times I screamed at her to get her shit together. I found her headspace in this book so authentic and true to her state. It felt like her choices weren’t hers. They were all decided for her by the Fates. So it felt like she was stumbling throughout this book trying to solve the puzzles of history on this quest she’s embarked on with the one person she swore not to work with again. I really felt for her here and all the pain that was being thrown her way. She still felt like a strong character for overcoming and even falling during hard times. I just know if I was in her position, I would have curled up in ball and sobbed for days… while trying to get with Jacks.. 😉
Jacks: I love to hate him and hate to love him. He was even more unnerving in this book, if that was possible. Stephanie does this incredible thing where she makes him act more secretive but in a way we found out more about him in this book than any other. His development overall felt true to the plot, to the world, and to his relationship with Evangeline and there was one scene (iykyk) where I cried as felt my heart completely ache for him.
LaLa: I found LaLa to be such a sly character but also one I loved reading about. She comes off as such a innocent girl, one with the desperation to be loved and love. But throughout the book, you can never forget that she is a Fate and Fates are so much more wiser than they appear. I loved learning more about her in this book and more importantly understanding her heart and how her mind works. Despite what mess she finds herself in, I felt there was true empowerment in her taking things into her own hands and working to find her happily ever after.
Luc: I was not as drawn to Luc as I was to the other characters. Yes, he was flirty and cute, and all kinds of wrong in a bad boy vampire type of way, but truly I felt like his character was just a pawn in a greater plan. We saw few bits and pieces of him, and just by reading the first book, I feel like Stephanie has a grander role in mind for Luc. I can’t wait to see what it is but in this book, he was not one I was super excited about when he came onto the pages.
Chaos: I think, maybe just maybe, I liked Chaos the most out of them all… I mean up until that scene, he was my favourite. I found him very intriguing. I would not be mad if we had a whole book just dedicated to him, his past, the loves he came across in his long life. I definitely found him to be strong and determined, but there was a gentleness to him that came in fleeting moments and small actions that made my heart melt. Of course, when you get to the end, you know a lot more and might feel different, but Chaos was a complex type of morally grey character that I can never forget even after I’ve closed the pages and gone into a massive book hangover.
As always, the world is incredible. I found the map to be so whimsical as it described the manors and different places. The way magic is written in this world, the curses, the dips and turns of the forest all align and make sense to the greater plot. I loved it whenever they mentioned food, because the way it was described left me so hungry.
If you’ve read OUABH then you know exactly what I mean when I say that its the kind of world you would like to visit through a wardrobe portal, but maybe not live in for too long.
I am still reeling from this book! I knew upon finishing the first one last year that I would be a puddle of emotions and tears reading the sequel. The plot… oh the plot… while it had so many twist and turns, some you expected and others you really did not, it was so incredible to see how everything played out. There was enough mystery, if not more than enough, that kept me wanting to find out more and more about these characters. I loved the way things came together then broke apart in a way that shattered you as you anxiously flipped back and forth through pages wondering if you read the words right!
It has all the elements of the world I loved from the first book while introducing new places, curses, and magic that always seemed more exciting than it was… in a good way.
I loved the character developments for some of the minor characters in the first book that now became some of my favourites…*cough* Chaos. I was still so taken by Jacks and his unnerving ways. My heart still connected with Evangeline’s as she went from lovestruck heartbroken to strong and well, heartbroken.
📜 Plot: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🧙🏼♂️ Characters: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
❤️ Romance: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🧕 Diversity: ⭐⭐⭐
Please let me know if you have read this book! What were your thoughts?!
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