Book Reviews

Book Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Note: This review may contain spoilers!

Let me just start this review by saying that Nocturna has one of the prettiest book covers I’ve seen. The tiling effect is so well done and I can say that judging a book by it’s cover worked out for me this time. In fact, I am happily surprised at how much I liked it. I was a bit unsure about the summary coming into the book, but I’m glad that I read through and stuck with it. Note that I have read other reviews discussing how it is extremely similar (in a copy-like way) to A Darker Shade of Magic, but since I haven’t read it yet, I won’t be including it in my review.

What I Did Like:

“People like me, we’re ants, and rulers are just a big foot looming over us ready to squish us into the dirt. Doesn’t matter whose body the foot is attached to, the purpose is still the same.”

I liked a lot of things in this book actually. I just connected with the characters and the contrast between Finn and Alfie was pretty interesting. I absolutely love books with two contrasting leads (“good” and “bad” even though the “bad” lead isn’t bad once you get to know them) and it just added to my enjoyment of the book. Their developing relationship guided the story and I liked that it wasn’t an immediate obvious romance that I would have expected. It grew as the story progressed instead. Also, I felt like their backstories played a huge role into how they turned out as people, and I found the occasional flashbacks insightful. For example, it was interesting to know how each of them gained their magic and why it became the way that it is. Also, the entire story of Finn killing a girl for burnt bread also added to her character and it made me sympathize with her even more.

The world-building has to be one of my favorite parts of the book. The beginning of the book was kind of slow because of this, but it supported the story, and in the end, I’m glad that it was done. The details that the author includes makes the world seem more vibrant and real. The different types of magic, the social classes, and the royalty definitely pushed the book and its plot. I loved the fact that it was in some type of spanish country and that there were bits of spanish intertwined in the story too. Even though my spanish knowledge is quite basic, it was interesting to see it come to use. The magic was also super interesting to read about and I liked how the magic of each person came from an event in their past.

I also liked the plot of the story in general. These types of stories are kind of cliche, but I love them so much that I’m just not tired of them yet. The various heists (Finn with the cloak and Finn/Alfie with the prisoner) were interesting and were full of action. Additionally, I loved the relationship between Ignacio and Finn and how that carried out through the story. It made Ignacio’s character more meaningful and it gave him a bit more depth. Their relationship also added to the villainy of Ignacio, enhancing his role as a character.

What I Didn’t Like:

“Who you are when you’re angry is still you. It doesn’t have to be all of you, but it’s a piece of you all the same. If you deny that, you might as well deny your whole maldito self and be done with it”

I liked the majority of this book but there were a few miscellaneous things that I didn’t find that great. First of all, like I said before, the book started off very slow. In the beginning, I was actually unsure whether I should continue with the book or not. It did add to the details of the book, but I felt like it was unnecessary at times and I just wanted the action to happen.

The book was also kind of predictable at times. For example, I knew how the cloak heist would go from reading the summary of their paths colliding and I knew who the villain was from the moment the dark magic entered him. The ending to the story was kind of predictable too. There were a couple of details here and there that I didn’t expect, but there wasn’t anything overly surprising. The entire predictability of the book didn’t bother me that much, but I would have appreciated a plot twist somewhere to make this book even more exciting.

While I also absolutely loved Finn and Alfie, I disliked Luka. Whenever he showed up, his presence was so unnecessary and the fact that he was necessary in the ending to break the curse was so random. I do get that his presence drove the plot of the story, but I just didn’t like his character. I found that he was kind of ditzy in a way that just bothered me. I really wanted to like him because of how well the book was going, but it just didn’t end up working out.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to someone who doesn’t mind a slower paced novel with heavy world-building. While it can be cliche at times, it is an interesting read with fleshed-out, real characters that was quite enjoyable for me.


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