The Library of Fates is a standalone fantasy book inspired by Indian and Macedonian history. It’s set in the fantasy kingdom of Shalingar, whose princess Amrita is going to marry Emperor Sikander for political reasons – but even that may be too little to stop him from conquering her kingdom.
What drew me to this book – apart from the beautiful cover – was the writing: the author’s note at the beginning was wonderful, and the chapter right after, which is a fairytale/prologue, almost made me tear up in a few paragraphs. And the writing was, for the most part, as beautiful as I wanted it to be: there were descriptions of food that made me hungry, magical descriptions that almost felt like a painting, and stories within stories. The ending itself established a circular narrative which is perfect for the themes of the novel and what it had to say about time and fate.
But, ultimately, The Library of Fates fell flat in some aspects. Here’s the thing: descriptive writing can only do so much.
The Library of Fates reminded me of Traci Chee’s The Reader, a YA fantasy novel which disappointed me in pretty much the same way this month: they are YA books that manage to be at the same time very well-written and not.
Of course I loved the setting, its atmosphere and its mythology, and the themes this book dealt with – not losing hope, choosing without selfishness and taking fate into your own hand to overcome hardships – were very interesting and not what I see in the average YA fantasy. On the other hand, the dialogues were often awkward and the pacing wasn’t the best – everything felt too sudden, too quick and too slow at the same time.
The main character of this novel, Amrita, is the only one who is actually developed; all the other characters, including the two love interest which form a very unnecessary but not that relevant or irritating love triangle, felt like props in her story. And while this book is not character-driven because there are no characters interesting enough to carry the story, the plot wasn’t that interesting either. Parts of it felt too convenient, and while I understand that this is a story about fate, many things felt forced – including the romance.
Also, while The Library of Fates is a very unusual book because of its plot and themes, it was surprisingly predictable – I guessed all the plot twists without even needing to know there were twists ahead.
If you love atmospheric writing and don’t mind bland characters, this book might work for you, but while I did like some aspects of it, I was also disappointed.
My rating: ★★★¼