Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Sexual Content, Mentions of Suicide, Mentions of Sexual Assault
A Touch of Malice is the book I’ve been waiting for in this series in terms of character growth for Persephone. But, in the end, the series has gone downhill. It’s somehow worse than the previous two even with a more cohesive plot, better characters, and improved descriptions. I’m not sure if I enjoyed this book more, though, because I had such low expectations going into it or what. But I will say it was better than the first two books, even if it somehow got worse.
- Growth in the characters
- More rational and healthy relationship dynamics
- Intriguing and cohesive plot
- No map
- The pace was still choppy
- Lackluster at best
- Filler scenes and smut at every corner
- There wasn’t a plot until halfway through the book
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The plot of A Touch of Malice was much better than the previous two books, honestly. It felt like more was at stake and new dynamics were introduced to create actual consequences for Persephone. Compared to the previous two books, there weren’t as many plot holes or convenient plot devices.
However, for the most part, not much happened in the book, even with the rising threat of the Triad and Demeter still on the loose. If I had to summarize what happened, I couldn’t beside the third act. There were a lot of sex scenes and ultimately forgettable events taking place.
And what was up with how Persephone struggled with her power throughout the entire book, still, but in the end, she is able to defend herself without much effort and kill Demeter? She couldn’t even fight back against the Olympians, but she could in the final scenes? It doesn’t make sense to me.
I also don’t think that Demeter’s demise was justified. She had such a huge part to play in everything that has happened in the books up until now, and she is taken out by a potential relic sword? That’s it?
Even with all these plot issues, I still had questions that weren’t answered and general comments about what was unfolding. Let’s get into it:
- When first introduced to Ben, Persephone assumed Hades saw a serial killer in him. Which is super odd to just assume. Like what kind of look does that entail? The only thing I can think of is that this was foreshadowing, but not in this book.
- Although I do like Zofie, her role baffles me a bit. She is Persephone’s bodyguard, but only in the Upperworld, right? So, how does she know Persephone is in the Upperworld? Does she protect her while Hades is around? While I understand her role and appreciate the character, it just seems a bit odd to me.
- I wish Persephone had won their card game so that the two of them could take a vacation. I think that would have been an interesting turn of events besides another sex scene.
- Initially, I was confused about how Tyche died because it seemed that the Triad leader only cut off her horns before Hades said she was dead. Later we find out she was continuously stabbed, but there was zero mention of stab wounds on her while in Club Ambrosia.
- Did Persephone ever cover any of the major events that were happening on her newspaper/blog? She got it all set up in the last book, but we literally don’t get an update or see her working on any articles.
- Honestly, based on the synopsis on the back of the book, I was expecting Zeus to be a bigger obstacle. I was expecting Persephone to be taken away or fully separated from Hades, and then Hades causing chaos to bring her back, etc. But, nope. They just worry their marriage will be denied throughout most of the book. Kind of disappointed on that front.
I would also like to add that I’m glad (not really the right word, but go with me) that Persephone’s abduction by Pirithious didn’t go to waste from book two. The event seemed pointless in A Touch of Ruin, but I can see that it was the foundation for Persephone to experience more trauma and for the book to talk about PTSD. So, I guess it had a purpose, but I’m still not happy with it.
Persephone is finally more emotionally stable and more rational in her actions/thinking. We see her communicate with Hades more, bite her tongue, think things through before acting, etc. This, my friends, is the growth I’ve been waiting for.
I was able to enjoy Persephone’s character more and back her up when things went wrong. I hate she had to experience as much trauma as she did and I don’t know how I feel about liking her more after the trauma, though. It just makes my stomach churn thinking about it.
The only thing that still nags me about Persephone is that she continuously leaves her friends in dangerous situations, like in Club Ambrosia and the Panhellenic Games. In both these instances, she is teleported away to safety and she doesn’t even ask about her friends, but they reach out to ask about her. Even though she talks about how much she cares about her friends, I don’t really see any actions to back up those claims, especially in situations like this when she can teleport them to safety or ask for someone to do that for her.
Hades is in the same boat as Persephone in regard to communication. He’s finally opening up to her more and talking through their arguments instead of letting it simmer. Besides his ability to communicate more and show affection besides sex, Hades didn’t really develop anymore. He was supportive of Persephone in most of her decisions and helped her when needed, but he’s basically the same god we saw in book 1. He’s basically there for just sex scenes and it is disappointing.
I love that we got to see another side of Hecate. She is now more than just Persephone’s handmaiden or advisor for her relationship with Hades. Hecate is powerful and a force to be reckoned with. In this book, we really get the sense she is more than and is a well-rounded character.
Before getting into the negatives of the writing, I wanted to start with a few positives.
- I am so happy we had more tender moments between Hades and Persephone. I loved seeing them vulnerable with each other and growing together. The writing of these scenes really helped make their relationship more believable outside of sex.
- Descriptions of surroundings, events, and people also improved, and I was immersed more in the story because of it.
- The fact that we got a POV from Hades at the end was wonderful. I enjoyed his view and the writing that portrayed him. It was different from Persephone’s and more stoic. I loved it.
Now, I am tired of seeing typos and grammatical errors in a well-established author’s book. There’s no excuse at this point. That also goes for inconsistencies with plot devices, names, and previous events. Here are a few that I noticed:
- Inconsistent with how time jumps or the next scenes are written. Sometimes there is a spacer between events, other times the jump happens in the next line. That could have been cleaned up a bit more.
- I’ll be honest, I have no idea what the hell happened at the Island of Lampri besides sex. What was the whole hidden sapphire pool and cave thing? I couldn’t imagine any of it.
- On page 420, who is Theo? I thought the bodyguard, whom Theseus left in charge, was named Tannis.
- At the end of book 2, didn’t Persephone receive a ring from Hades for their engagement? During the wedding, she stated that she didn’t have one. So did Hades give her a ring for their engagement or did he not?
I would also like to mention that I had to skim over most of the sex scenes in this book. There were just so many that I didn’t care anymore. It was the same descriptions, multiple pages long, and it got boring having to read through it every other page. And it seemed that was all the two could talk about/do every chance they saw each other. It was all cringy at best.
Although I did enjoy this book more so than the previous two, I still found that I was forcing myself through it. It was bland, even with all the action and growth. Literally, if you read the last act of the book, you’ll gain everything you need to know. The rest was filler and sex. And ultimately, it was forgettable. I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the fourth book when it comes out next year. I’m just so disconnected from the whole thing that I don’t think it would be worth it.
What did you think of the book? Did you like it or could you have done without it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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