Sunday, February 10, 2019

Review - The Crimes of Grindelwald

Ok, here we are… and what to say? 
Let’s start with the basics. Did I like this movie? Yes, I did. Was it what I was expecting? No, it wasn’t. The Crimes of Grindelwald is, by all aspects, a transition movie. I was kind of hoping it would be as the first one, so enchanting, engaging, and amazing, and in the end, well… it wasn’t. I couldn’t love it as I was expecting to. I repeat, I liked it, and I was able to see many aspects in which it’s been underrated. Although, I think we all know JK Rowling is better than this. 

The first thing I thought as I left the theatre is that the movie didn’t include as many fantastic beasts as I would have liked to see. There was barely a scene inside the suitcase! And the second was that I could have totally removed Newt from the story, and it would have made very little difference in the plot. And I don’t think I should ever be left thinking something like that. But still, there’s a lot of details and things I noticed, and I have A TON to say, so sit back, relax, and get ready for a million-year long review, in which, obviously, I will leave things unsaid. I can’t possible analyse every single thing, and it’s long enough as it is. So, thank you, in advance, to those that will stay that long, I really appreciate it. Oh, and this will be SPOILERY, so if you don’t want to know what happens, this is your chance to leave. BYE.

First of all, something small but worth noticing. There’s these little details scattered here and there I just couldn’t help seeing, that made me so incredibly happy, and that any Potterhead can recognize, like when, as Newt and Leta walk around in the Ministry of Magic, we can see owls flying around; Arthur Weasley explains this to Harry at one point, telling him that they used to have owls for internal communication, but ended up changing to memorandums because of the mess they made. Or later, when Newt and Jacob are about to use the portkey to go to France, and Jacob has no idea what will happen, but we see that thing that is nothing more than a dirty old bucket, and we already know. That is honestly so great. I feel both situations as a high-five from Rowling and the whole Potter team that fed our dreams for so long, and I just love them, because I feel even more a part of this amazing world. 

As for the movies to come, I’m excited with the chance to meet the wizarding communities from other parts of the world, other than the British and the American ones. Five movies, five continents, is my guess. Oh, and it may sound very simple, but I really appreciate that every single main character in this story is an adult, which gives way to a lot more possibilities than if they were kids or teenagers. Unlike with the Harry Potter series, we are not discovering this world, but fully living it. These people can use magic outside school, and have more experience than if they were still students, so there’s so much more of it ahead!


Ok, this guy.
Because it’s always nice to see Newt Artemis Fido Scamander popping out of his suitcase.

Nothing can make me love Newt any less than I do. Nothing. In any case, I’ll just love him more. He’s so unique, and interesting! He could totally get along with Hagrid and Charlie Weasley. He’s a genuine good man, and I love how everything around him is a reflection of his personality and his interests. The screenplay describes his apartment in London as “a spartan bachelor residence”, which is exactly what most things about him say. His worn clothes, his old suitcase, his barely combed hair… Everything. He’s not very concerned by his looks, nor cares a lot about what people may think of him, which is especially noticeable in the contrast with his brother, who has a certain image to maintain as an Auror for the Ministry. To really get to know Newt, you need to gain his trust, look past his physical look, and go to his basement, or inside his suitcase, because there is where his life is. Not in plain sight. Newt is a simple guy, fully devoted to what he loves the most, and is not afraid of the world’s judgement for it. He cares and loves his creatures like they are family, and I guess no one can blame Bunty, his assistant, for being hopelessly in love with him. She’s crazy about creatures, like him, and gets to see the real Newt, living his passion and being himself at all times. What’s not to love there?

By the way, I found especially funny that the Spellbound magazine mentioned Newt as a “beast tamer”, because that shows how little they care about his work. If they did, they would know that is not what he does, because that implies he uses force, which could never be true. It’s rather about caring to understand them, to get to know their true nature and find out what they are, in despite of society’s prejudice. Plus, let’s be honest, anyone who has seen the nifflers knows that there’s no possible taming there.

I really love how happy he is when he sees his friends again. He’s not close with a lot of people, showing emotion is not easy for him, and when he sees Jacob and Queenie in his living room, he even manages to hug Jacob, which is a huge breakthrough. But his face… Eddie Redmayne has very expressive eyes, and he can say a lot without a word, which is only the tip of the iceberg of what makes him one of greatest actors alive. Newt realizes one second later that, if Queenie and Jacob are there, Tina must be too, but his expression instantly drops when she’s not, and you can read disappointment all over his face, as he tries to act as if it’s no big deal. And later, when Queenie explains to him that Tina is seeing someone else after the article mislead her, he rapidly blinks and avoids eye contact, letting us see clearly what the screenplay describes as “the atmosphere tainted by Tina’s absence”. He loves his friends, but he can’t deny he wanted to see Tina. He missed her and had no idea she may be hurting for something he never meant to do. It makes me want to hug him, and the list that actors that had that effect on me at some point is very short. And later, when he reads the postcard Queenie left behind, his eyes widen at the sight of Tina’s name, and that is purely an acting choice. It’s not on the screenplay.

As for Tina
She now looks very different, in every sense of the word. Hair, clothes, posture… I love that trench coat, by the way, which, as I had the opportunity to read, it’s not black, but deep blue. My guess is that she would have looked like this in the first movie, had Newt met her when she was still an Auror. The screenplay says she is “more elegant and confident than in New York but carrying private sadness”, and, if I remember correctly, she has only one or two smiles in the entire movie. Her whole darkened aspect now fully says Auror, unlike everything she wore in the previous movie, and we can see better her true personality and courage. She has now the chance to prove who she really is, what she can do, the true reach of her strength (like if duelling Grindelwald wasn’t enough). She’s still a badass, and fiercely loyal to herself, and to MACUSA. I love when she slams Theseus into the chair and ties him up so they can keep going, because that’s the real Tina! Nobody messes with her.
 
It’s funny because they’ll all be family one day. But this is what I mean, this is the Tina I want to keep getting to know. The smart, brave, badass Auror that is also a selfless, sweet, lovable girl with a big heart. Because she can be all those things, and the balance is perfectly shown, when, more often than not, they seem to be like water and oil in fiction (at least with female characters). And now that she lost her sister, she will fight with all her strength and skills to save her. I can’t wait to see that. The only thing I missed about her was her being irritating, and nagging Newt like she did when she first met him. 

Newt and Tina’s relationship didn’t get very far in this movie, but I love them even more, if that’s possible. I have to tell you, guys, I love when Newt tries to find her in Paris, and upon Kama’s tentative description, he instinctively calls her beautiful.
 
It seems minor, but it is something I haven’t seen in so long! In my experience, the world has forgotten that calling someone beautiful instead of hot is also valid. We are women, not cups of coffee, for God’s sake! And in my perspective, the term has shifted into something so demanding that borders pain, that requires a lot of sacrifices, and apparently, has become synonymous with physical perfection, to the point that it has more value than the person you are. That is why I love this. Newt didn’t fall in love with Tina because of how she looks, but for the person she is. For the brave, caring woman she can be if given the opportunity to show it, and only after seeing that, he recognized she’s also beautiful on the outside. 

Tina doesn’t know that, of course. At first, it’s very noticeable how, as she thinks him engaged, she tries to distance herself from him, adopting this fully professional attitude and barely talking to him, calling him Mr. Scamander instead of Newt, and trying to pretend nothing ever happened between them. Which, in a certain way, is true. At most there was hope, and tender feelings. We know that they exchanged letters, but not what they said. The screenplay tells us that “each has thought of the other daily for a year”, but, clearly, he wasn’t there to give her his book in person, as he said he would, because they only meet again in Paris and she’s already read it.
Once he clarifies things, stating that he’s not the one getting married, things instantly change between them, as they both try to say what they’ve been meaning to since they were reunited. It’s impossibly sweet. The fact that he carries her picture in his pocket surprises and moves Tina, because when she thought he had forgotten her after playing with her heart, in fact he had been thinking of her the whole time. There’s acting choices in this scene too, and they’re perfect. For one, Tina is incredibly touched, and as Newt rambles on an on, she’s doesn’t stop looking at him in awe, and even bites her lip, like not believing such cuteness and awkwardness all together in one guy. And as for Newt, although the screenplay says nothing, we can see how he drops his wand as he tries to speak, gets all nervous and stutters… Like I have said before, Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston are both the perfect casting choice for these two.

Newt telling Tina she has eyes like a salamander is utterly priceless. It can’t get more authentic than that. That is Newt Scamander, ladies and gentlemen! Jacob had previously tried to dissuade him from using that as a compliment, and told him what to tell her: that he missed her, that he went to Paris because she was there… And all those things may be true –because they are–, but they are nothing but platitudes. Any other guy could say that. But this is Newt we are talking about. He’s unique. That compliment has his personal signature, as I can’t imagine anyone else saying something like that. Tina simply has to admit she will never, ever meet anyone like Newt!
The way they look at each other says it all. You don’t hear every day that your eyes are like light in darkness, magical, unforgettable. She understands what he means and finds it endearing, because she knows what his creatures mean to him, that they are his life, and he loves them more than anything. This is a couple worth rooting for, because what I see is this relationship helping them become their best version, which is more than I can say about most of the romances I know. They both are better people when they are together. And look how. Tina didn’t smile a lot before Newt, sunk by the weight of her mistakes, and her strong commitment with duty and justice, taking action even when it wasn’t her place to do so. She hung on the balance, on the verge of losing everything, and was almost forgotten by the world, until she met him, and things started to change. And Newt, although naturally caring, is shy, and not good in dealing with people, but he’s making the effort because there’s someone he cares enough as to at least try to. Breaking through his awkwardness to talk to people in general is never easy for him, but he’s doing his best when it comes to Tina. He is willing to do what makes him uncomfortable for her. And if that is not blooming love, then I don’t know what it is. In a film and literary world in which, apparently, romances can’t work without constant lust, or without unnecessary drama that overcomplicates everything, this is beautiful, and strongly meaningful, in its simplicity.

Alright, moving on. I’d like to briefly talk about Theseus Scamander, Newt’s older brother.
This is a character I never expected to see here. By the way, Eddie Redmayne and Callum Turner could totally be brothers in real life, as they are so physically similar. From my perspective, I see Theseus as everything Newt should do, or what everyone expected Newt to become. He’s like the conventional, respectable Scamander Newt will never be. I find funny that one of the brothers is named after an animal (or a scientist, if you go for Newton), and the other, after a mythical beast slayer. It shows how different they are, and moreover, it’s like practically expected from Theseus to be a hero. He is mentioned as a war hero in the first movie, and I really want to know more about that. Oh, and also, I’d love to know more about their parents! They are not mentioned at all, but the book says that their mother was a hippogriff breeder, and she was the one that made Newt interested in magical creatures in the first place. I also want to know more about Theseus and Leta’s relationship. What happened there that Leta ended up preferring Theseus and broke Newt’s heart? Because, upon seeing the Spellbound picture, it is clear why they would confuse Leta with his fiancĂ©e, in the way she leans on him, how proud she looks, how she smiles… No one would deduce she’s not going to marry him, but his brother. It’s an honest mistake. 

I need to talk about Leta Lestrange for a minute.
What a character. Wow. I only appreciated her complexity with a second look. She has JK Rowling’s trademark, as I came here ready to hate her, and in the end, I couldn’t. Everything about her already predisposes us for it, starting with her last name. Lestrange is not exactly any last name, as it is heavy with darkness, attached to character we can’t but hate. Also, seeing her in Slytherin robes, and cursing a Gryffindor girl, immediately creates a bad reputation. Plus, before that, we only knew Leta as the cause of Newt’s broken heart, and as Tina’s rival. But she’s overall deeper than that. In general, Leta’s character is presented as a beautiful, pureblood witch that’s about to honour that by marrying someone of her same status. She seems to have it all. But her external appearance is a sham. She glows like a jewel, but in reality, she’s weak as the flame in a candle, secretly fragile and guilt-ridden for the secrets she carries. 

I understood and loved her early friendship with Newt in school. Before him, we see her bullied and feared, with everybody thinking her weird and wicked without even considering her history, the tale she never told anyone, and that never let her be free. She had genuine reasons to be like that. Think about it! Since she was born, she never knew happiness. Her father never even wanted her, much less loved her, and her mother didn’t live long enough for it. But Newt –just as he always does with his creatures– decided to understand her before judging her. He talked to her when no one else did. He let her in his world without questioning her, sharing what made him happy. Just like that baby raven he was nursing when she found him in Hogwarts, Leta was hurting and couldn’t handle it on her own, and needed a friendly hand, a gesture that didn’t say hate but love. Something she never had. Newt didn’t ask questions, and genuinely cared for her, and wanted to be her friend even in her dark times, after an entire life in which she felt as nothing but a burden for everyone. No wonder she would love him. And all this is what makes me think that, when she said I love you, it was for Newt, because we can see why. We don’t know enough about her relationship with Theseus to think otherwise, to see why she ended up engaged to him instead of Newt. Reputation, perhaps? We don’t know for sure, and I don’t think we ever will now. But I liked the fact that she, even with everything that happened to her, could gather her strength for one last fight. Yes, she paid for her mistakes. But she died a hero, defending those she loved the most. 

As for the contrast between Leta and Tina, I’d like to briefly compare them to see how different they are. I once referred to Tina as someone who could easily get lost in a crowd, because of her clothes and her look in general. And although she still can, it’s not the same. She looks different and her mixing in the crowd is now a requirement of her job, not an inevitable consequence of her circumstances, like it used to be. And Leta, well… She always wears these detailed, elegant designs, with expensive, rich-coloured fabrics, and deep necklines, and it’s more like a striking, sexy look. This woman doesn’t go unnoticed in any possible way. If she’s is in the room, you will see her. She’s beautiful and elegant, attractive in an obvious kind of way, while Tina is more of a sweet, caring woman with a low profile, who took care of her family when she had to, and gives everything out for others. Sounds familiar?
Just like with Newt, to get to know Tina, you need to honestly care. Her beauty is less dazzling, but still worth noticing. But Leta, at least, had genuine reasons to be a taker. She never had anything, and when she could, she tried to have as much as possible. We should not see her as the villain because of that. 

Ok, let’s move on. 

In my previous review I said the Wizarding World was ahead of its time, and it is, in many ways. Except for that ridiculous rule they have in the American community. 
I agree with Newt. It’s absurd. Queenie wants to rebel against that, and tries to protect Jacob in the previous movie, standing before him, trying to shield him from Madame Picquery’s sight, so he wouldn’t have to be obliviated. She really loves him, and although it was wrong to take him to London under a spell, she did it because she knew he would never go on his own. Queenie is definitely different in this movie, and you can see it in her costumes already. The girl with the perfect hair, and in pink, silky dresses, was left behind, replaced by a stronger figure in tweed and overall darker tones. 
I was not expecting that twist in her character, but I guess her outfits were the first clue. She doesn’t even smile much, and everything about her says internal struggle. There’s not much to say about her and Jacob, as they are barely together in this one, although Jacob tries to find her in Paris during the whole story. He truly loves her, and doesn’t want to lose her, but neither wants anything bad happening to her because of him. I can’t wait to see the part Jacob will play in this whole mess. He’s not a wizard, after all, but he won’t stop until he gets Queenie back, and I’m excited to see what will happen. Plus, I love his friendship with Newt, and how he’s slowly warming up to the magic around him. It’s very funny to see him as he tries to help Newt with his people skills, especially when he fails in speaking to Tina as he should. He’s still the comic relief, but in a realistic kind of way, as the foreigner in this world of magic he’s just starting to know a little better, unlike Newt, whose funny parts come mostly from his personality traits. But Queenie… I’m afraid we lost her to the other side. At least for now. Which gives me the opportunity to talk about this guy we call Gellert Grindelwald.
I got to tell you, that final speech is captivating, in the way that he encourages his followers to violence without using it. He shows them who the real villains are, and how it is in their hands to put a stop to them, ending wars, and suffering, if they just take the power for themselves. Notice that not for himself alone, as Voldemort wants, but for the whole wizard kind. A power he thinks, is rightfully theirs. An attractive concept, isn’t it? However, he makes them prove their loyalty by literally walking through fire. You don’t just take his side. Only his true followers can walk through his flames and come out alive on the other side. If you doubt, you burn. That way, he ensures that there’s no double-cross, no second thoughts. Just pure loyalty. And I’ve never, ever seen something like that. He’s different from any other villain I’ve ever known, because his weapon is not fear. He’s like the human version of the Mirror of Erised!

As he masqueraded as Mr. Graves, he took some liberties that clearly hid something behind, that were not simply his job. The perfect example is sentencing Newt and Tina to death like that, without reliable evidence, after Newt’s creatures gave him the perfect scapegoat to state his claim that the damages in New York were caused by a beast. I personally think that, given how Newt and Tina are, he knew they would never take his side. There was no weakness there he could exploit. His motives come from the conviction that wizards should be the superior race, because of their power, and his claim gains him fanatics all over the world. One can see why this idea would tempt them, but Newt and Tina are not ambitious like that (besides that they could see right through his shady plan). Grindelwald’s followers are not like Voldemort’s Death Eaters, and he doesn’t gather them the same way. Look at the way he used to get Credence to cooperate, and how he snagged Queenie. He doesn’t use force, or threats. He appeals to their hearts, and uses promises as his weapon. Credence has magic, even if rotten and uncontrollable, and can be very strong. It’s useful for him to have him by his side. By giving him a wand and revealing his name (true or not), he is both answering his most pressing question, and granting his greatest wish. Don’t tell me that is not a smart move. But since that is not very detailed, I can’t say more. I just have one single question: is Credence really Aurelius Dumbledore, or that is just who Grindelwald needs him to be for his plans, for the time being? It wouldn’t be the first time he creates a bait like that, after all. If Albus finds out he has another sibling, he won’t let him end up like Ariana, her death being his lifelong torture. Grindelwald knows it. And like this, Credence works as the perfect shield, because as far as he is with him, Dumbledore won’t dare attack. It’s brilliant.

As for Queenie, well… if there’s something Grindelwald proved he’s good at, is at exploiting the pain of others, but smoothly enough as for them not to notice. My point is that, to gain her and Credence, Grindelwald attacked their vulnerability with honey-coated promises, making them act on their own free will. Queenie has a big heart, and her only wish is to be free to love whoever she wants. One would think that couldn’t be used for evil. But Grindelwald talks to Queenie’s feelings and purity, and actually gives her a choice. And this is what I mean. It’s like having the chance to step into the Mirror of Erised after seeing what you want the most. You have to be made of stone not to fall for that. 

What I don’t think Grindelwald knows so far is that Queenie is a Legilimens, and she should do as she has been so far, keeping that to herself. It can make her a huge difference in his game, and if he finds out, he won’t let her go so easy.

And finally, Nagini. Another thing I never saw coming.

She’s a Maledictus, which is like the dark version of being an animagus, because she doesn’t have control over her transformations. It’s a blood curse, and apparently, that makes her a circus freak, because she doesn’t have a wand, meaning that she will never be a part of the regular wizarding society (if she ever was). She can control it for now, but she will eventually find her transformations more difficult, finally ending her days as a snake, unable to transform back. And that is a wildly interesting concept that raises a lot of questions. It’s interesting to get to see this, since Voldemort, besides everything he did, was a collector of unique things, and that is why he picked the objects he did to be his Horcruxes. Not ordinary things, but things with an immense historical value, that were one of a kind: Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, Ravenclaw’s diadem… Unrepeatable treasures, with a huge meaning. We already know where and how Nagini will eventually end, but in the Harry Potter series there’s not much about it, besides that it’s not a regular snake, and Voldemort needs it to survive until he can have his own body. We don’t know where he got her from, and in general, she poses a blank canvas, that Rowling can fill the way she thinks best, giving her a past and a personality, before the inevitable happens. It’s an opportunity that is there for the taking, and I hope it leads somewhere interesting. My theory is that she will ultimately turn into a snake, to never transform back, because of a broken heart, as she is in love with Credence, but we’ll see.

***

I think that’s it. Thank you so much for all those who stayed this long, I know this must have been exhausting. I appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart. Please leave your comments below, and again, thank you.

‘till next time!


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Review - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The day has finally arrived. 
Today is the day I’m going to finally review this wonderful story!
This has been long overdue, but I don’t want to hold back my words anymore, just because it’s not a proper novel. I read the screenplay, though, and I have a lot to say about it. This is my favourite fictional world ever, and that means, I won’t shut up. And it shouldn’t surprise you. So, if you haven’t read the screenplay, or seen the movie, just go away, ok? This will be spoilery. And long, very long. But you already know I do that, so let’s go.

I have to say it, it is weird to go to see a movie that takes place in the Wizarding World, without having read a book first. I don’t know what to expect when I sit there to watch, but it is both strange and familiar at the same time. And this sums up my feelings after it, in one picture. I’m both these guys.


The fact that this isn’t the adaptation of a novel can be a good thing; we don’t see what someone cut and interpreted, but instead, we see directly what JK Rowling wrote and imagined. The book is the movie. And besides the utterly lovable characters, I really like the Easter eggs they scattered here and there, like the many creatures that are not mentioned, only shown, but still, any self-respectable Potterhead can recognize them: the billywig, the nundu, the fwooper, the diricawl, and of course, that pilfering niffler. I loved that they saw and took some of the golden opportunities given by this world, deciding to show fantasy creatures that are not the traditional ones, like dragons, or unicorns, choosing originality instead. Well done!

There’s something I really, really value, that is constant in everything JK Rowling wrote about the Wizarding World. Things are very clear in her head, because, here, the important thing is WHO YOU ARE. Not how you look like, or what you have. And I can sustain this. For example, take president Seraphina Picquery, and let’s get realistic for a second: in our world, racism and sexism are current problems, no one can deny they are ever-present issues. But the Wizarding World, already in the ‘20s, is light years ahead, with a powerful Minister of Magic who is both female, and a woman of colour! The real question is, why this has to stay fictional? Although that’s entirely another day’s topic, that doesn’t concern us in this review. My point is that Rowling barely describes her characters’ physical look in the screenplay, because again, what matters is who they are as people, their talents and capacity, their passion, their convictions, their actions, and the decisions that define their role in the story she’s trying to tell. It would be good if, even for a moment, we stop and think about that. 

And based on this, think how behind muggles are in comparison! While the wizarding community values all those things I mentioned, and doesn’t care about skin colour, sex, or nationality, when it comes to positions of power, or the well-being of their people, muggles go centuries behind them in their mentality. Literally. At the beginning of the movie, we see Mary Lou Barebone saying this:

. . . this great city sparkles with the jewels of man’s invention! Movie theaters, automobiles, the wireless, electric lights—all dazzle and bewitch us!

It’s funny that she is talking about progress, when, in fact, she is a walking contradiction. She and her followers are named the Second Salemers, and do things like they did no less than three full centuries ago from their time, still paranoid, looking for witch marks in people’s bodies, and hunting them to figuratively burn them at the stake. Even her kids dress similarly to the way they did in the 17th century, and get beaten up at the minimum slip in their conduct. So much for progress, right? All this while the Wizarding World is concerned by more pressing matters and shows superiority not only in their magic, but in the little, more evident things that muggles could also try from time to time. They find Mary Lou’s attempts even kind of funny, like just annoying background noise. True is that Mary Lou had a point, something was definitely off, wreaking havoc in the city and disappearing without a trace. Not even the obliviation after what Tina did to her could get the idea out of her head. But how on Earth she thought she could fight such a destructive force with just her speeches and pamphlets, it baffles my mind. 

But let’s go to the best part.

Ok, Newt Artemis Fido Scamander… *sigh* 
Yeah. I adore him. Can’t pretend that I don’t. I love Newt for many things, and Eddie Redmayne deserves an award solely for the expression in his eyes through this whole story. He’s the perfect casting choice for Newt, and you can’t argue with me on that. I really love how well he shows us the difference between Newt around people, and Newt with his creatures. He’s shy, and awkward, he doesn’t speak a lot, and most of the time he avoids eye contact. He’s not exactly what we would call ‘a people’s person’, being permanently uncomfortable around others. But inside his case, he transforms, he talks to his creatures as if they were family, all his awkwardness disappears, and even his whole body posture changes. His world, his life, are inside his suitcase. There, he smiles almost permanently, most of the time with that sheer, pure loving expression in his eyes, especially when he strokes Frank’s head, and tells Jacob about how he found him in Egypt, and decided to save him. I love how free and active he is when he’s in his element, as he goes from one creature to another, feeding them, healing them, and explaining them, everything with a perfectly visible passion. He has a big heart and defends all forms of life. I love how he’s not very worried when, later, he says “I annoy people”, because dealing with people isn’t really something he cares about, he’s always more comfortable with animals, that is what he really loves to do, and won’t apologize for it. He’s authentic. He doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not. And for that, I love him even more (oh, and by the way, his face when he first enters the American Ministry of Magic is priceless).

And Tina…! 
Porpentina Esther Goldstein, Ilvermorny Thunderbird, natural badass, and an Auror for MACUSA, with a penchant for justice. She could easily be a Gryffindor. I love her, utterly and completely –especially when she nags Newt–, and I see a lot of potential in her character. She’s just a normal girl, who goes to work every day, and does the best she can with what she’s got (doesn’t get more relatable than that, right?). At first, I noticed her looks, with her short hair, not so neatly done as Queenie’s, the minimum of make-up, and of course, her clothes. Always in gray and white, she’s not a remarkable figure, and if I walked next to her on the street, I would barely notice her. She’s the kind of person that easily gets lost in a crowd. Her coat looks old and worn, even oversized, as she was degraded from Auror to the almost forgotten Wand Permit Office, which can tell us that they let her stay in the Ministry almost out of pity after her scandal; hers is an office that doesn’t actually need people, it’s dark and in the lower levels, the typing machines do the work all on their own, and she’s alone; and besides, the name tag on Tina’s desk says Queenie Goldstein, meaning that not even Tina herself cares enough about what she does. She has genuine reasons to be bitter. She barely smiles, in the entire movie, but when she does, her face lights up; I’m over the clouds because she always smiles around Newt, who, more than once, gets caught up in that, unable to stop staring at her. But still, I love how she never stops being loyal to herself, to her profession as a security force, and her commitment with justice, protecting the city and its people, wizards or not. I’m very happy JK Rowling decided to write Tina as an Auror from the start, giving her a chance to show her bravery and badassery, like a true Thunderbird. She defies authority in the name of justice. She even duelled Grindelwald himself, and being the first one to attack, for crying out loud! We should never forget that. 

The difference between the Goldstein sisters is perfectly visible; they are both very well written and portrayed, since you can see that from their attitudes to their costumes, and you don’t have to look further than their sleeping attires.
I think that says it all. While Tina is more of a practical girl, and perhaps less easy-going, because as the older sister she had to take the reins of their family after their parents’ death, Queenie is a happy, flirty girl, not to mention beautiful, always smiling, and being sweet with everyone. Having Tina and Queenie in the same room, it is very clear which of them will immediately attract the attention, leaving the other in the shadows. But Tina has wits, inner strength, and her own type of beauty, perhaps less dazzling than Queenie’s, but there nonetheless. And even when the world doesn’t really notice her, Newt does, and I can totally see where their connection lies, something that fails in most of the romances I’ve seen or read. They are both very similar, as Tina had with Credence the same attitude Newt had with his thunderbird, Frank. They both saw them chained up, unfairly suffering and being mistreated, and decided to act on it, no matter the consequences. Doing the right thing is important to them, more than anything else, and they have the same attitude towards defending life and protecting the innocent.

As for dear Queenie… Let’s face it, guys. More often than not, the happy, pretty blond girl in stories is also the dumb, shallow one. But Queenie Goldstein not only breaks that rule; she destroys it. 
Being a Legilimens, she can perceive people for who they really are, and she can’t be fooled. Unlike in other worlds I’ve seen and read, here being pretty doesn’t mean being a slut, or a selfish brat, the same way being sweet, loving and caring, it's not synonymous with being silly, and unaware of the world around you. I know it sounds evident, but many books and movies miss that! Queenie has courage, and a great inner strength, and not everyone knows what she can do with her mind, which is great, because it allows her to see people’s real intentions. And her relationship with Jacob is the sweetest thing ever.

Truth be told, Jacob Kowalski is not an Adonis, and not your typical love interest. He’s just a regular muggle guy with a heart of gold, a difficult life, and the dream to make people happy with food. He stumbles upon the Wizarding World by accident, and just like us, he’s fascinated and wants to be a part of it. Jacob is all of us, and proves that you don’t have to have magic to be a part of a fantastic story, getting to be Newt’s friend and sidekick. I’m happy that, for the first time, a muggle can be so important for the development of a story set in this world. He’s there as the comic relief, most of the time, but his character has a purpose, and is utterly lovable. Queenie falls in love with him for who he is as a person, for the interests they share, and not for his physical appearance, breaking the concept that, sadly, is strongly installed in fiction: that the blond, giggly, gorgeous girl won’t look twice to a guy who isn’t nearly as attractive as she is, and that the man without the perfect body and the sparkling blue eyes is not worthy of a decent romance, nor can love a beautiful woman without being rejected, and his part is only the one of the goofy, hopelessly in love village idiot, who, obviously, doesn’t stand a chance. 

We already saw this in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, even if briefly, in Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s relationship. Mrs. Weasley thinks she’s going to abandon him because he’s no longer so handsome, after Fenrir Greyback attacks him, but Fleur gets angry with her, proving that she’s not as vain as everyone thinks, and that she really loves Bill, and will love him no matter what, being ready to stay with him through thick and thin. That is the kind of healthy relationship that should be seen more often in fiction. Romance and love based on who people really are, in their personalities, interests and talents, and less focused on being insanely beautiful, or rich, or any other less important thing, that, at the end of the day, isn’t key to be happy.

But back to Newt and Tina! I love their relationship, and I root for them, even when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the book), already tell us how their story will eventually end: “Now retired, he lives in Dorset with his wife Porpentina and their pet Kneazles: Hoppy, Milly, and Mauler.” But this doesn’t make me any less excited! Giving actual faces to these two names, along with well-defined personalities, is utterly priceless. And this is what I meant before. Here, Porpentina is just a name, we don’t know who she is, where she came from, how she met Newt… There’s nothing, except a great opportunity to be creative. And I love JK Rowling for taking it to make her a badass from day one, writing her as an Auror, of all magical professions. 

Both Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston do a great job with their characters, to the point that I can’t think of anyone else better suited to be Newt and Tina. I love them, and I love how they portray them by making acting choices, and adding things to their performance that go beyond what it is in the screenplay, and that are personal to each of them (like when Newt places his wand between his teeth). I love that JK Rowling decided to give them a story all of their own, and honestly, my favourite scenes in this movie are both the dinner in the Goldsteins’ apartment, and the farewell at the docks.

The first one, because, well, the magic in everyday life and how natural it feels, for starters; I love how they just flick their wands and cook, and settle the table, and everything. But besides that, the tension! Even when Queenie and Jacob get along almost immediately, and make the others uncomfortable, we still get to see Newt enchanted with the little home and the sisters, and Tina’s attitude in a different role, other than the Auror who arrested him. She wasn’t obligated to give him a place to stay, nor anything, for that matter, but she acted showing her good heart, and that she cares. The glances they exchange across the table as the others talk, and especially when Tina stands up and says “Okay, you guys can bunk in here.”, are what I mean. The screenplay says nothing about Newt and Tina looking at each other fondly, or surprised, or anything. The actors added that, and they totally let me see the start of their relationship, without a single word. Just a look.
Those eyebrows, Newt...

*snap back to reality*

Sorry.

Anyway, later on, when she turns him in after what happened in Central Park, and Graves questions him about the Obscurus, Newt answers his questions looking at Tina, who is standing right behind him, because he cares more about her knowing that both he and his creatures are innocent, than the law itself. It’s important for him that Tina knows he didn’t betray her. And, like any self-respecting Hufflepuff, he’s loyal to the end, because he doesn’t hold a grudge, and stays to save Tina in the death potion room, instead of running away without her, choosing to look at her directly in the eyes –something unusual in him–, and getting her to trust him in despite of her fear (and her sass).


And the scene in the docks, well… *sigh* It’s been long since I saw something so sweet and heart-warming. Newt and Tina are adorably awkward in this one, but there’s noticeable changes, things that weren’t there at the start of the story. For example, Tina’s clothing. She’s still in white, gray and black, but her clothes are now becoming, and fit her perfectly; she’s wearing high heel boots, and a trench coat, her hair is done, she smiles more, and in every possible way she looks more refined and pretty than she did at the beginning of the movie, mostly because she’s an Auror again. And she has someone to thank that for. I love Newt in this scene, because he’s awkward, and shy, and his words don’t come out as he would like them in front of Tina, but she doesn’t mind, because she’s as embarrassed as him, expectant, and almost moved to tears. And what I love the most, is this:

Newt gazes at Tina—awkwardly affectionate. He gently reaches forward and touches her hair. Lingering for a moment, they stare into each other’s eyes.

This, in my opinion, is a lesson for storytelling in general. In a film and literary world in which a romantic relationship, apparently, can’t be told without the characters constantly lusting after each other, to the disgusting point (and you know I’m not exaggerating), this is a breath of fresh air. The way they look at each other, so intensely, told me everything I needed to know. 


It was a good thing they didn’t kiss. This relationship wouldn’t be so sweet if it were rushed. Because even when he says nothing, and only breaks his awkwardness to sweetly stroke her hair, you can tell what they are thinking. You know that Tina is wishing he wouldn’t have to leave, and Newt even stops on the gangplank, fighting his wish to get back with her instead of boarding the ship, after somehow promising to see her again. I love his dawning realization, when he says that people change, and that he changed, after Tina mentions Leta Lestrange, who is, as we later find out, Tina’s complete opposite. He wasn’t even thinking of Leta –anymore–, as Tina mentioning her takes him by surprise.

It’s simple, and beautiful. It’s two people who found each other and discovered the other wasn’t what they thought they would be (something that sums up the concept of the fantastic beasts, in general). The gap between their duties and their passions is very notorious in both of them, especially with Tina, as she spends the whole movie doing what she thinks is right, instead of what her position in MACUSA demands from her. And that is the start that leads someone to be a hero. Breaking the rules and standing up for what you believe in.

Finally, a word on villains and victims. Gellert Grindelwad a.k.a Mr. Graves, is one power-hungry, smooth-talking villain. His most effective weapon are his promises, because he gets what he wants through saying the right word at the right time (unlike He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).

Tom Riddle is more of a strong, fearsome kind of villain, who seeks power over everything else, but is also secretly afraid of the things he doesn’t understand, that did everything he did for his wish for immortality, and his fear of death. Grindelwald’s motivation, for what we know at this point, it’s far from that, and gets people to cooperate by promising things. My point is that Grindelwald’s weapon is not fear. Let’s think about that for a second. He generates fanatism without threats, as he gathered some of the followers we know so far through the promise to end their suffering in a society that doesn’t understand them, and by giving them the chance to choose. “For the greater good”, he says. Voldemort’s Death Eaters don’t think this way. But since Grindelwald has a bigger role in the next movie, I’ll talk further about him in that review.

And Credence… The poor boy.
I definitely want to know more about him, his background, how he ended up with that crazy Mary Lou Barebone… There’s a lot of potential there. Most of the time, he appears to be an absent-minded push-over, as he follows Mary Lou around, says yes to everything, and gives away her pamphlets. He wants to be a part of the Wizarding World to escape his miserable life, and that is what Graves uses to his advantage. And honestly, who could blame him? We ourselves are that kid in the cupboard too, sometimes, waiting for someone to come and tell us we are wizards, and then take us to this wonderful place. Credence is relatable that way. As for him being the Obscurial, I figured it out by half of the movie, I was not fooled there. However, I find the whole concept of the Obscurus extremely interesting. A dark, uncontrollable power, like rotten magic, that comes from wizards and witches supressing their power at an early age, and that eventually kills them. Is that what Ariana Dumbledore was going to become, eventually, hadn’t she died so young? *suspenseful silence*. 

And it’s not for supporting Grindelwald, but Credence really is a miracle. How could he survive that long with that inside of him? Can it be removed? Can it be turned into a positive force, through helping him handle that power? So many questions!

But we do know one thing, and that is that, if you are familiar with Rowling’s style, you know that she will distract you, getting you into thinking you are aware of everything, when in fact you were looking in the wrong direction the whole time. It’s undeniable that Rowling is a master in distracting you from the hints, including them when your attention is elsewhere, and in the end slapping you in the face with the truth. No writer I’ve ever read does this better than her. 

*sigh*

Let’s face it, people. No one can create an entire world inside one simple suitcase and take you in a unique adventure, the way JK Rowling does. She’s the Queen of Magic for a reason, and Fantastic Beasts, in a way or another, sums up everything I love in fiction. I will never stop loving this world. It’s definitely the best, most fleshed-out fantasy world I’ve ever had the luck to find, and it will never stop fascinating me. This shows the power imagination has, and what a talented, passionate writer can do, as it makes you feel this world is very real, and at grasp, right there in front of you. Not to mention that it always feels like coming home. *sob*

I can’t wait to know how this story will continue, and I hope it only gets better and better.


Review - Empire of Storms

Original Title: Empire of Storms
Series: Throne of Glass, #5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: September 6th, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
Oh, my God. That was one intense read. 

I’m so very happy that I read The Assassin’s Blade before this, because it’s essential to understand more deeply many of the situations and characters that come out to play in this one. But, where do I start? So much happened in this book, that I can’t cover everything here. And I won’t. You need to read it to understand how captivating it is, in its writing, in the little details, and its characters… Sarah J. Maas’ writing is incredible. It can be powerful and sharp like a blade, and poetic and beautiful when it needs to be so. It has the perfect balance to both have you gasping and sweating, and also slap you in the face, the way it hurts. Although not everything was perfect, and I guess I should have seen it coming. Yes, Sarah J. Maas definitely is a good writer. But this book, although epic, wasn’t perfect for me, which doesn’t mean it can’t be so for other readers. Many things were off-putting, or just plain weird. I have both good and bad things to say about it, and a simple star rating doesn’t cover it.

Let’s go step by step.

First of all, Dorian. What a change. He’s unrecognizable from the boy that started the series in Throne of Glass. He’s gone cold, and calculating, and after everything he went through, he’s completely broken. He’s slowly getting on hold of his power, and I feel like his ice is a reflection of the state of his soul. All that suffering at the demon’s hands made him numb, and although he has now reasons to become the King of Adarlan, with all that it entails, he’s definitely not whole. Something is amiss. As for his relationship with Manon… I just… I don’t know what to tell you, guys. It’s cringy, at the most. They are constantly in this tug-of-war kind of scenes, being sarcastic with each other, calling each other “princeling” and “witchling” as a mockery… If they are supposed to fall in love, I didn’t get that, and mostly because of the lust that constantly coats their scenes together. In my opinion, they didn’t have enough moments for them to want to rip each other’s clothes like that. And when it finally happened, well… It went too far, too soon, and too detailed. He didn’t treat her differently than a whore, and then it says:

And it was the purely male promise that made her bare her teeth.

If that’s a male promise, I don’t know what a female promise entails. What a hell does this is even mean? Promises have genders now? No. Just… no, thanks.

But still, leaving that aside, I really like Manon. She’s a badass, and in this one she earned my respect. Asterin’s execution scene, after what happened in Rifthold, had me in tears, because I didn’t want Asterin gone. I like her, I like that she knows the witches aren’t heartless, and because she was there. She loved and lost, and was marked in her own body for daring to defy the “nature” of her kind. The revelations about Manon being the next Crochan Queen were just amazing, it’s so well written, that I had all kinds of emotions as I read. Definitely, Manon’s grandmother makes one hell of a villain, and I’m glad that Manon decided to defy her. That is what makes someone a hero. Breaking the rules and standing up for your beliefs, and Manon did both. I can’t wait to know how that story will continue. The scene in which she escaped after ordering her Thirteen to fly, and then flew on Abraxos with her exposed wound, through the canyons and the mountains… It was epic. Amazingly done. As I have said before, everything did explode on the king’s face, as I was hoping for. But not on the one I thought it would, but Erawan. The Blackbeaks are no longer with him, and are loyal to death to Manon, their leader and rightful Queen. I love it. 

Ok, Elide… What a character. She doesn’t do much besides traveling around with Lorcan in this one, but still, I loved how she proved her worth. Nobody gave a penny for her skills, but she’s smart, and resourceful. And although she went through a lot, she still had enough willpower to survive and keep going, to find Aelin and deliver both the Wyrdkey, and Kaltain’s message. I like that, even with everything she went through with her uncle, the abuse, the insults, the pain… she still considers herself Lady of Perranth; she defends what’s rightfully hers and nothing can make her yield. Nor her body, nor her lands. Elide has inner strength, and is capable of fighting back. Not in Aelin’s style, but still. The only thing I just have to mention regarding Elide is that, yes, granted, I didn’t see the romance with Lorcan coming, but I don’t really care about it a lot, mostly because it is very clichĂ©-like. Elide is that girl that always gets lost in the crowd, the one dismissed as weak, and unimportant, having spent most of her life serving others and bearing everyone else’s abuse. But when she’s finally free and in command of her own will, she’s suddenly this beautiful woman, and Lorcan starts lusting after her even before realizing it. Don’t tell me this is not an overused plot point. I honestly don’t know what writers have against a plain girl being the hero and falling in love with a handsome guy that will love her back, instead of making her a hidden beauty with big breasts and the body of a deity, that were always there but no one cared enough to notice. She can be plain, and still fall in love. She can be plain, and still be loved back by someone who will see and value her true personality and bravery, and all the virtues she has. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to choose this path, and every writer can do as they please. I just don’t know why they never choose the other option. 

And speaking of relationships… Everyone in this book gets someone to lust after. Not love. Lust. Lorcan and Elide, Aedion and Lysandra, Aelin and Rowan, Dorian and Manon… And that is why this isn’t the best book for me. The sexual content went over the top of what I can consider ok. Horniness is all over the place. It’s everywhere. And I repeat, it may be fine for other readers, but for me, it’s exhausting. Not every great love story has to have the couple continually thinking about ripping each other’s clothes right there on the spot. It gets repetitive, and I couldn’t help yelling at my book “For the love of God, calm down!”. After all, I’ve seen and read excellent romances that managed to be deep, complex and beautiful, without getting to the point in which you just beg the characters to take a shower, so they can focus. I already talked about this, but again, take Dorian and Manon. They don’t really know each other that much before going directly at it in the ship’s cabin, and perhaps I misread something, but I don’t see this making them happy, but rather… Like they are trying to see if their connection can grow, perhaps? I don’t know. 

As for Aelin and Rowan, their sex scenes are so uncomfortable to read, honestly. Cringy at the utmost. They love each other and that’s wonderful, yes. But I don’t need to know the particulars of their lust in the most inappropriate times and places, and their intimate encounters. I just don’t. There’s no point in getting that many details about how they do it, and perhaps that’s ok for other readers, but I’m not among them. Sorry. I’m happy they are happy, but I don’t need to know everything.

But besides that, the males in this book are in which I can only define as a snarling contest. They are like animals, constantly baring their teeth, and being territorial, and jealous, protecting their females… Because every single one of them has to have someone, and be drop-dead gorgeous. And if Sarah J. Maas is trying to make me see love in all this, I just don’t feel it that way. Do you want an example? You get it. After Aelin and Rowan do their thing, loud enough for the entire island to know it, they go back with the others; Rowan enters the room, and upon seeing Dorian and Aedion there, his first thought is this one:

Rowan bit down against the rage at the sight of other males near his queen, reminding himself that they were his friends, but—

See what I mean? He already has this instinct, this rage, to protect her, but there’s nothing to protect her from. Basically, because Aelin left very clear that she can protect herself since the beginning, but besides that, the other guys do literally nothing. Their presence alone bothers Rowan, and all I can think about is that I want to slap him and yell “would you calm down? Trust Aelin a little more, if you love her as you say you do, and please, focus!

As for them being fated from the start, well… Thanks, but I think we already knew that. I honestly don’t need to be told that over and over again. I’m smart enough to figure that out on my own. Just stop.

As for Aelin, I understand she loves Rowan now, but there’s something that just baffles my mind. I don’t understand how, with everything she went through, she managed to have four different love interest in the span of… what? Four years? She’s beautiful, and very attractive, that’s true. One can understand why men are drawn to her. But… That doesn’t fully convince me. Sam, Dorian, Chaol, and Rowan. Obviously, there’s no turning back from Rowan now, but still. Four guys? Four love interests in such a short time…? She may have suffered a lot, and her first thought is to keep people at arm’s length to avoid the pain of losing them, like when she first met Rowan and wouldn’t ask him about his tattoos, because she had had enough of her friends dying. But, apparently, falling in love is not a problem for her. Dorian was her shortest infatuation, and it didn’t get far, but the other two did have her heart at one point, before Rowan, and in the only way she knows how to love, that is no less than fire itself. She recovers quickly, apparently.

The ending killed me. Maeve, oh my God, what a villain! Her work is subtle, she hasn’t lived and ruled for centuries for nothing. No one would suspect what she’s doing. Setting those fires in Eyllwe didn’t sound like something she would do, and the purpose was, apparently, to sow the seeds of Aelin’s bad reputation, as fire is her element and everyone knows that. Truth be told, setting villages on fire was a little basic for her, she was definitely preparing the stage for something bigger, and I did not see that coming. But neither did them, for that matter. As everyone fought at sea, and even when her own warriors betrayed her at Rowan’s pleading, she still won by placing her armada as a distraction, to buy herself time to go for the real prize. She’s a powerful weapon all on her own, and gloats about her victory, not only with words, but finding satisfaction in the punishment and humiliation of her victims. She knows exactly where to strike, as she is both powerful and smart. But I’m kind of glad that she understood that the only way to contain Aelin is an iron cage and chains, because she won’t go down without a fight, and without at least attempting to take her down with her. And honestly, I don’t know which of the villains is the worse. If Maeve, Erawan, or Manon’s grandmother. It’s up for debate. 

Aelin is a heroine in every sense of the word. She works in silence, preparing the ground before her, selflessly, and always thinking what’s best for others. But she never reveals her plans, and that is where the shock always lies. She plans and plots, but out of our sight, so secretly that not even us, the readers, get a glimpse of what she’s going to do next. She’s more than fire and blades. She’s also a smart mind and a neat strategist, and if she makes a decision, it’s the world the one that needs to be careful, because she’s going to make it happen. And it’s not that she is ignorant of the things happening around her when she makes her choice. She knows what she has to lose, and it breaks her heart, but she does it anyway, because she understands that it is all bigger than her. Through her actions, and her unyielding in despite of her humiliation, she wants to tell people that Terrasen is more than its Queen, and it’s worth the fight. That they can still win, even if she’s not there with them. No matter what happens to her, they have to keep fighting with everything they have, because if they don’t, no one will. Even down and caged, she managed to make one last stand for Terrasen by sending reinforcements and collecting life debts, so her army would still be strong enough to hold on. Her people and her land are more important than anything that happens to her, and although she’s powerful, she let her followers clear that they still can win without her. That they fight for Terrasen, and not for her. And that, my friends, is what makes a hero.

Aelin Galathynius had raised an army not just to challenge Morath… but to rattle the stars.

And that is the only way she knows how to do things.

Another thing I really like about Aelin, is how she doesn’t beat around the bush. She’s practical and goes straight to the point, like when she asks Brannon how Maeve can be killed:

Brannon’s mouth tightened. 'Specify what you need to know.'
'Can she be killed?'
[...]
'She is old, Heir of Terrasen. She was old when I was a child. Her plans are far-reaching—'
'I know, I know. But will she die if I shove a blade into her heart? Cut off her head?'

See? That’s what I mean! She goes straight to the point, and I love her for that. She makes her ancestors leave aside the cryptic messages to, for once, tell her the truth in plain language. And it’s the first heroine I’ve read that does it. She questions everything, and makes people be clear so she can fulfil her goal without unnecessary confusions, because they mostly end up being catastrophic. And later on, when she has to stop Gavriel and Fenrys from fulfilling Maeve’s orders, and protect Elide and Lorcan, she simply says: 

You touch them, you die. You so much as breathe wrong in their direction, and you’re dead.

And you know she will do it. She’s such a badass, and a queen in every sense of the word.

Oh, my God, the battle in Skull’s Bay! I literally had to close my book to catch my breath. I’m not even joking. I was heavily breathing during the whole thing, as it was so intense, and well… AMAZING. Epic like nothing I’ve ever read before, and perhaps I’m exaggerating, but that is how it felt like. The pirate ships, the chain, the blood, the sea dragon, the wyverns, the screaming… Everything is described so well that gave me chills. Lysandra outdid herself with her shapeshifting, and her battle skills! No one messes with her! And Aelin’s power…

She was a stone plunked into the sea of her power—their power.

This sentence really impacted me, short and simple as it is. It’s a perfect visual image of how much power lies in her, and how deeper it gets when she joins it with Rowan’s, who is incredibly powerful already. This is all in Sarah J. Maas’ writing, that is incredible, and well put in the places that need to have this effect on readers. Everything was so great and so well done in that scene, that I can’t believe a book had such effect on me. That was purely epic. I can’t explain it, you need to read it.

As for Elena’s revelation in the pool of memories… I’ve seen that kind of plot twist before, it had like a Harry Potter flavour in it, but it didn’t make it any less painful, because it was a mistake that could have been avoided. But there’s something I value on this, and that it’s not always in other stories. Both Aelin and Elena must face the consequences of what happened. The price is both of theirs to pay. Because although Aelin’s fate was sealed even before she was born, Elena also has to face the consequences for what she did. 

I go, too. For the time I bought you, when this game is finished, my soul will be melted back into the darkness. I will not see Gavin, or my children, or my friends… I will be gone. Forever.

Elena condemned Aelin, but she’s not getting away with it just like that. The burden goes both ways. 

Finally, I’m glad we could at least see a little of Nehemia in this one. Apparently, everyone forgot she ever existed. And I stand by what I said the last time: such a waste of character! Her death had a point, but don’t tell me she wouldn’t have led to amazing things, had she stayed alive. And also, I loved to see Ansel back. I liked her in the novella she appeared in, and although she’s questionable in many ways, she’s still a badass, and will fight to the very end to repay the life debt she owes. I hope to read more about her in the next books.

I think I covered everything I wanted to say. All I know is that I’m close to the ending and it promises to be amazing, even with all the things I didn’t like in this book. Can’t wait to get to see how everything turns out!