I stand by the statement that I don’t really like fantasy romance. I like fantasy fantasy, action-adventure-sword-and-sorcery-epic-high-low-grimdark-portal, but not usually romance. I did like this book!
Thank you to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for this honest review.
“A Bond of Thread” is mostly about the developing relationship between Ilyas, who killed his last queen, and Skye, the shy young fae queen he is now bonded to.
Here’s what I loved: the writing style. Fluid and lovely, beautiful prose, and Pescatore’s ability to shapeshift from one book and genre to another is really impressive. This was no exception.
Ilyas and Skye’s relationship was really lovely. Like I said, I don’t usually care too much for romance-heavy fantasies, but their relationship was delightful. They felt like true equals, both struggling and both supporting one another. I especially liked Skye as a character. She was very believable as a different kind of protagonist, and her relationship to her royal power was very interesting.
Maybe my favorite thing about this book was the in-world folktales that were told in it. There was so much worldbuilding in just those few pages, and it left me wanting to learn more but also understanding this world on a newly deep level. It felt appropriately significant and mythic, too.
However, this still wasn’t an entirely five-star read for me. A few things, all pretty much conventions of the genre, took me out of it. I’ll mention them here, but I think for someone who likes fae books and romance more than I do they might be positives rather than negatives!
I just never find a sex scene in a book that doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I don’t know why–I read plenty of explicit scenes in fanfiction–but for some reason in a more established narrative it always feels out-of-place to me. This scene, though well-written, didn’t get beyond that.
The worldbuilding was clearly there, as shown through the fascinating fables, but the book didn’t give us much of a chance to explore this world. Also, and I think I just recognized this as I was reading, it very much falls into one of the patterns that has generally kept me from falling in love with fae books. The world has such a complex internal logic, with all different types of queens and bonds and planes, but pretty much all of it is magically predetermined, handed down to the characters regardless of their feelings on the matter. To me, this collapses a lot of the stakes inherent in the world. It doesn’t help that these roles and rules are all fictional, and there are so many of them it’s hard for me to feel what it would mean to take on one rather than another, or to fall short in one area, or so forth.
Personal quibbles aside, this is certainly a brilliantly executed book with great characters in a potentially fascinating world with huge potential.