Content Warnings: Explicit Sexual Content, Healing from Trauma, Kidnapping, Drugging
Glow is the 4th installment to the Gild series. We pick right up after the events of Gleam and follow Auren as she learns to control her magic and heal from her trauma. While this book was highly anticipated, especially after the cliffhanger of an ending in Gleam, it did not live up to my expectations.
There was plenty of uneven pacing, weird sex scenes, red flags from Slade, and zero plot. While most of this story is character-driven, we didn’t even get that. Many of my favorite side characters fell to the way-side, only acting as comic relief, and the only person who made any sense was Ryatt.
All around it was a disappointment, to say the least. But, before I give up on this series, let’s get into it.
- Picks up right after Gleam
- Slade’s backstory
- Auren facing her trauma
- No map
- Cliffhanger ending
- No plot development
- Unnecessary POVs
- Weird sex scenes
- Info dumping
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
To say the very least, this plot dragged on. I got so bored halfway through that I didn’t think I’d actually finish the book. And I felt guilty because of it! I love the series! Until we came to Glow.
I was gun-ho for Auren’s healing, visiting Fourth Kingdom, and facing the political disaster that Queen Kaila created, but we hardly even got Auren healing properly the way she needed to!
For the first 500 pages, nothing happens. There isn’t any plot development, no character relations created, just Auren trying to heal and Slade forcing her to face her trauma too soon. Which, don’t even get me started on Slade (but I will because we’re talking about him in the next section).
The action comes in the last 200 pages of the book once the crew leaves Drollard Village. That’s when things pick up. We even get insight into Auren wanting to try new things and her trying to figure out what she wants for herself. But it’s disgustingly domineered by Slade.
This whole thing was just a mess, and, not to mention, the entire book could have been cut to half of its size. There was no need to go in circles about Auren and Slade’s untrusting drama for the first 500 pages.
But let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the plot because, boy, is there a lot to go through!
Like I said earlier, I was on board with Auren healing and taking her time to figure her shit out after getting out of Ranhold, and we got it. Just not the way I wished.
Trauma is a personal thing that everyone handles differently, so Auren wanting to take her time and distance herself from what happened not even a week ago is a totally appropriate response.
She withdraws, and I can’t say that I don’t blame her. She’s coping with the fact that she killed people (but we don’t mourn Midas), that she lost control of her magic, how her ribbons were cut from her, and that she almost died. But she’s forced to face these truths in an even more traumatizing way, particularly by Slade.
Before jumping into Slade’s misguided way of helping Auren heal, I want to talk about how Judd handled it.
Judd, once he found out Auren’s balance was off because of her loss of ribbons, focused on helping her regain her balance. Yes, he pushed her, but he was gentle about it.
He didn’t force Auren to keep going but gave her a nudge of encouragement to get her motivated. Everything bit of training she did with Judd was her choice and fueled by her own ambition.
See? All of that was an appropriate response to someone trudging through trauma.
What is not an appropriate response is forcing someone to face their trauma when they’ve barely had time to process it.
Slade, I’m looking at you.
Now, Slade did experience trauma of his own— mainly guilt for rotting Auren, so he gets some lead way. And I understand him wanting to talk about it because it affected him, too.
However, I don’t condemn the way he forced Auren to talk about her experience or touch anything during the day when she wasn’t ready. She repeatedly voiced that she scared or not ready to face any of that, yet. But Slade ignored her and continued to push.
Yeah it got her to open up and start processing her trauma, but it was so forced.
He’s not respecting her boundaries and not listening to her concerns. Slade just plows through to get Auren back to the way she was before, but disguising it as “helping” and “supporting” her.
I was disgusted at his behavior and it shot up red flags all over the place for me.
You have to let a person heal and face their own demons on their own terms. Nudges of encouragement and support are welcomed, but not forced confrontation of the issue.
Auren Or the Kingdom
Let’s face it, the people of Fourth Kingdom were not a priority at all in this book
Slade was willing to let his people starve just to prevent Auren from going to trial. And the worst part is, his Wrath followed! They listened and did as he said as if they were brainwashed or that was the right decision. Which it is not.
I’m sorry, but that isn’t leadership. That is being short-sighted and too hard-headed to listen to anyone else. Ryatt was right about the whole situation from the beginning. He was the only voice of reason during the Auren vs the Kingdom argument, and he even changed his opinion in the end, saying he was wrong.
Slade putting Auren before his kingdom is selfish. The lives of those innocent people do not need to suffer because Slade refuses to allow Auren to go to trial. Auren even realizes that this would harm the people and tries to talk to Slade!
But what does he do? He seduces her and tells Manu that she declines behind her back and without talking to her. Again, Auren’s voice is ripped away by Slade (maybe this should be the origin of his nickname— ripping women’s voices away).
Instead, what should have happened was this:
- Slade becomes the cunning king/commander we’ve previously seen;
- They devise a plan for when they go to the Conflux— what to say, what to expect, and how to escape if things go badly.
- Agree to attend the Conflux at Queen Kaila’s request. All the while allowing the soldiers to rest and workers to stock up on supplies.
- See what happens during the Conflux and step in when needed.
Forcing your people to starve because you refuse to allow your “lover” to go to trial is blasphemy and Slade shouldn’t be king after that. He is creating conflict and war when it can be negated and negotiated.
I also want to briefly touch on the abandonment of his army after Auren’s attack in Ranhold. He left only one captain (Osrik) to look after them. The army didn’t even have the support of its other commanders because they decided to stay with Auren.
To sum it all up, I’m highly disappointed in Slade’s ability to prioritize and rule his kingdom.
While I’m thrilled Ryatt won’t have to walk in Slade’s shadow anymore by pretending to Rip, I don’t understand how Ryatt is supposed to just take over the commander role and let Rip retire.
If Ryatt technically doesn’t exist, how is Slade going to introduce a random commander that the people haven’t seen before? How are they expected to follow Ryatt when, in their eyes, he’s a stranger?
How did Slade really expect that to go?
What. The. Fuck. Was that? That ending was rushed and shitty at best.
Why did Auren need to go through a cleansing for a trial?
Why did the monarchs rush her ruling? They all knew Slade was going to be pissed by killing her. Were they really dumb enough to make him an enemy?
Why didn’t they let Auren tell her side of the story? And why didn’tAuren voice her story? Yeah, the people might not have believed her, but it would have created some doubt.
Did Ryatt find Slade in the desert? Did he fly in on Argo? Ryatt just comes out of nowhere at the end just to save Slade’s ass.
Why was the other rip in Drollard Village closed? Was it because of the new one he created or the one the twins opened in Seventh Kingdom?
I just wanted a more justified and cohesive ending than the shit we were just dealt. Maybe one that was more than 200 pages because there could have been a brilliant build-up to this, done properly with proper explanations if Slade didn’t ignore everything going on outside of Auren.
- I don’t want Malina to have a redemption arc. She’s a cold-hearted bitch that doesn’t deserve to rule any kingdom. I’m kind of glad she got duped into recreating the bridge, though. That felt justified.
- I didn’t like how Auren responded to Slade telling her about his Rip story. Auren turned it on herself instead of comforting and supporting him. Maybe it’s because she lacks the emotional intelligence to respond that way, but damn did it come across as self-centered and insincere.
- I feel bad for Slade’s mom— she deserves better and has been through so much.
All-in-all, based on the back of the book, this wasn’t really the plot I expected. I expected more fighting with kingdoms and head-butting, but instead we have Auren healing for 3/4 of the book (which is fine, she needed it) and the last half was rushed info dumping and making a cohesive plot.
Throughout the series, I have continuously supported Auren and her venture to have her own life. She’s finally facing her trauma of Midas and what she did in Ranhold (even though it could have been portrayed better), and she’s figuring out what she might like to do.
But, Auren is still just kind of there and allowing things to happen to her instead of driving the plot. I understand that she’s not used to taking control of her life and making decisions, but damn she could have tried! She is the main character after all.
Also, Auren needs a break from men. She is supposed to be this battered woman finding her own two feet, escaping from one abusive relationship, but falling into another when she’s not ready.
I would be completely happy if she left Slade and ventured off on her own. I want to see that journey, that development of Auren.
Because Slade is not all that and a box of chocolates. She can find a healthier relationship and thrive.
Dear goddess, I couldn’t stand Slade. His character completely deteriorated. He was reduced to a lust-filled, possessive, walking red flag with daddy issues if I’ve ever seen one (and I’ve dated a few!).
This man does not respect Auren or her boundaries. He says that he does, but his actions say otherwise.
How the hell are you going to support this woman, help her regain her freedom, only to take away her voice and make decisions for her? He had no right to give Manu an answer disguising it as Auren’s own, especially behind her back
When it came to sex, he was very forceful when seducing Auren. Every time she tried to voice her concern, he basically seduced her and left before hearing what she had to say.
Then, how are you going to have sex with a woman who has been abused in more ways than one and treat her just like all the other men have treated her? But with you, it’s somehow okay?
But the thing that pisses me off the most is the fact that he declares himself as her endgame. Regardless of the experiences, Auren wants to have, and the people she wants to kiss, Slade is to be the one she returns to.
What if Auren doesn’t want that? What if she falls in love with someone else? The audacity he has in claiming her life like that is shocking. The fucking balls on this man.
He’s like a wet jacket that you can’t shake off. Every time you try to, he clings to another part of you.
And I’m just ready for Auren to rip it off and be done with his mess.
What happened to this badass bunch of captains? They were reduced to comic relief and cheap side kicks. I miss my take-no-shit Lu and Matthew McConaughey Judd. And we didn’t even get to see Osrik much, but even then he was reduced to a lust-driven loaf.
Half of them were with Auren the whole time, we could have seen more interactions between them or them driving the plot in some way. But they just disappear into the background.
The voice of reason! Ryatt was the only one voicing legitimate concerns about Auren, her abilities, and the state of the kingdom. He should be king in my opinion.
But what is his deal with Slade? Why does he resent the man so much? (I know the backstory was supposed to explain it, but I didn’t buy it).
Ryatt felt like an angsty teen (which I guess is valid since he’s never had his own identity). Honestly, Ryatt has been wronged in so many ways and I don’t understand how no one bats an eye at how he is treated.
I thought Malina was a bitch, but damn Queen Kaila outshines her. This woman is ruthless and suffers from a superiority complex. But I must say, I like her style.
Glow did not have the same vibes as the previous installments. The characters were all off (especially Slade), the pacing was weird, and we still didn’t get any action or fighting. It was all bland monologs dragged out.
The first 500 pages were so repetitive. Slade and Auren rehashed the same issues and thoughts over and over again (reminded me heavily of Poppy in Kingdom of Flesh and Fire). The entire time the group was in Drollard Village could have been reduced to 200 pages. 300 if I’m being generous.
If I wasn’t already so invested in this series, I probably would have stopped reading halfway through.
We have 6 different points of view in this book— Slade, Queen Kaila, Malina, Auren, Rissa, and Osrik. Way too many if you ask me.
Although I enjoyed the brief romance of Osrik and Rissa (though it was a Rip and Auren 2.0), it could have been removed. I would have much preferred learning about their interest in each other towards the end when Rissa and the army returned. That would have made things more intriguing.
Now, Queen Kaila’s POV added nothing to the story besides setting the rumors in place at the beginning. Besides that, her one or two chapters were not needed and just wasted my time.
I hated Malina’s chapters. Once she escaped the castle in Gleam, I was done with her. I couldn’t care less what happened to her. However, her role seemed to be pretty vital to the overarching plot for her to only get like 3-4 chapters.
The one positive about the different POVs is that I could easily keep up with the various tones between characters. They each had their language quirks (Osrik comparing everything to sex or the self-pity of Malina). So, that I thought was done well. Some author’s can’t pull that off, but Kennedy did.
Weird Sex Scenes
Onto the weird and off put sex scenes between Auren and Slade.
Before writing this, I had to validate my own feelings with their intimate interactions, so I took to Goodreads. And to my delight, I wasn’t the only one feeling the weird vibes from these scenes.
Every sex scene between Auren and Slade is just weird. The tone is off, the interactions don’t seem to fit the characters, and it feels like someone else entirely wrote those scenes. Not to mention, the scenes aren’t clear sometimes and I’m lost on what is actually happening.
Slade’s crass language also doesn’t help. It just doesn’t fit his character or the time period either. Especially with words like “baby” and “sexy” (which Auren used, too). They just don’t fit the narrative and pulled me out of the book completely.
I had to skim these scenes because it was too cringy to read, and when I did read them I rolled my eyes a lot. Maybe they weren’t as bad as The Never King or The River of Shadows, but they were up there.
I think we are way too far in the game to be introducing multiple brand-new characters, Slade’s backstory, and the start of a fae-human war.
Here are all the new characters we were exposed to:
- Slade’s mom
- Slade’s Premier/advisors
- King and Queen of Second Kingdom + their son
- The rest of the monarchs, like King Thold
- The twins
That’s a lot, right? I mean we got backstories on Slade’s mom, but he never mentions his Premier. It’s as if halfway through the book, Kennedy realized she had to explain who was taking care of the kingdom while Slade was away.
I can kind of understand the other monarchs and the twins because they weren’t needed until now, but when we did see them, there was a lot of info dumping.
Speaking of info dumping, at the very beginning of the book, we finally get Slade’s backstory. He’s been a main character for 3 books and we are just now learning about his origin story. We should have gotten this much sooner than now!
There are just too many elements that Kennedy introduced in this book that could have just been left out or mentioned in the other books.
But, honestly, I would have been okay with the series ending in Gleam, as long as it was shortened as well and included the important parts from Glow (Auren healing and the Conflux).
I would have been fine with the Conflux being a spectacle only and Auren being okay. Or if she was killed because it makes sense too.
Regardless, I’m anxious about what’s to come in the 5th book.
- I kind of liked the way Slade’s flashback chapters were introduced. Typically, after reading them, the lesson of what younger Slade learned would be applied in the next chapter. And when we finally got to the part about Rip, we didn’t have to read all those chapters back to back, we already did. I thought it was done well.
- I love the whole tone of women reclaiming their lives, voices, and freedom. It’s a real kick to the patriarchy’s ass.
While I had a lot of issues with Glow, I still enjoyed the book, hence the 3-star rating.
I loved seeing Auren heal, learning of Slade’s backstory, and the new landscape of Fourth Kingdom. Hell, I even liked the idea of the Conflux and the potential it had.
But I’m just disappointed.
Maybe since I read all 4 books back-to-back I’m a bit tired of the world, and that could be why I’m feeling so let down or aggravated with the series. But it is what it is. I’m all caught up now.
Even with my disappointment and poor execution of Glow, I still plan to read the 5th book. Maybe it will deliver and will really kick ass, at least I’m hoping because I don’t know if I can continue reading this long-dragged-out series.
Book #5: Gold- TBR
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!
Facebook Page | Goodreads TBR | Spicy Rating Scale | Author’s Website