***This review does contain spoilers***
I honestly cannot believe this series is over; I am in tears. This was such a captivating ending that made me laugh and cry and filled me with a sense of hope and renewal. If I could sum up this story in one word, I would choose redemption. The forgiveness and love of these characters astounds me. Before I get any further, I did want to add that this review contains spoilers both for past books in the Weaver Trilogy and The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin.
Now, let’s dive in!
This book was far more action-packed than the first two, and moved at, in my opinion, a much faster pace. It starts with Braith, who has been taken by ‘The Master’ a.k.a. HER MOTHER. What?! I found this to be such a shocking, unexpected twist that cemented the theme of redemption. Braith has probably been my favorite character through the trilogy, and I loved what this did for her character arc in The Story Hunter.
One, she had to confront a lot of the ugliness from her past—especially the hardships of her family. Two, she had to learn to rise above her blood, and rise above the nastiness of her parents lust for land and power.
That said, I do wish the story had focused a little bit more on her perspective. Though her struggle with learning that some people don’t choose redemption was incredibly powerful, and I thought it was well written.
Kharn is also, quite literally, the perfect, most patient love interest. He gives me high standards, and I love him. Just thought you should know.
Brac is one of two new POVs in The Story Hunter and I LOVED his character arc. Up until this book, I really wasn’t much for Brac. I thought he was rash, impulsive, and a tad bit idiotic. Sometimes, I really wondered how Tanwen put up with him. Needless to say, this book changed my opinion. Brac is still an idiot (and he knows it), but he’s an idiot with a big heart, a moral compass, and a passion to set things right. I love him. He’s adorable, and I loved how his character arc included learning he could find redemption if he sought it.
Diggy also had a POV, and I have to be honest, I really wasn’t a fan of her character until the very end. Maybe I simply found her POV difficult to follow, as it was in present tense while the rest of the story was past-tense (and that threw me off just a tad in the beginning), or perhaps it was that her character’s journey of redemption felt very similar to Brac’s (though very different in other ways). I do feel the need to add—this book deals heavily with Diggy’s past and the rape she endured. After a few chapters, I usually ended up sitting this book down because it was a lot to take in and process all at once. It took me a rather long time to finish reading simply because it was so heavy. (If you are sensitive to sexual assault of any kind, be aware that this book does talk explicitly of it, however it isn’t romanticized and it is handled in a very sensitive manner.)
Ultimately, her decision to heal was powerful and I enjoyed her arc in the end.
Onto Tanwen, who carries most of the story. I didn’t feel like she had a super major character arc in this—she honestly spent most of her time supporting Diggy and Diggy’s arc. Her story revolved around her feelings toward Mor, and whether the two would end up together. While this is not necessarily Tanwen related—although it is in a sense—I grew to love the friendships in this book so much. Tanwen and Braith. Tanwen and Karlith. Tanwen and Aeron. Tanwen and Diggy. There are a lot of good, healthy female friendships and I am here for it.
Adding to that, there are a lot of male friendships too. Mor and Zel. Mor and Warmil. Brac and everyone from Pembrone (literally everyone). There are good male-female friendships as well (I adored Tanwen and Warmil). Anymore in books, you don’t see good ole fashioned friendship. This book did such a phenomenal job with holding friendships in place. While in some ways, this kept tension out of the story between the characters (Tanwen and Brac is really the only friendship tension there is), I think ultimately it lays out a good example for Young Adult readers on healthy relationships.
Okay, I just wanted to take half a second and thank Lindsay A. Franklin for not giving Dray a redemption arc in this story. I know, I know, I said one word to sum up this book is redemption. And I stand by that. But along with redemption comes the choice to be redeemed, or to turn away and continue on a path of sin and self-destruction.
One of my biggest beefs with Young Adult fiction (especially fantasy) is having abusive characters and giving them redemption or making them out to be ‘good’ characters because of their motivations/intentions (hello, Severus Snape). One of the biggest themes this story has is redemption, and when I saw Dray getting a chance at redemption by helping those he’d hurt, I wasn’t thrilled. As the story progressed, one of the things Diggy made note of is that Dray is a taker. He takes and he takes and he takes and he will never change because he cannot stop taking.
AND FRIENDS, HE DOES NOT CHANGE.
I think this is a super important thing to share in these stories, because the truth is that while abusers definitely have a chance at redemption (God offers it freely) it does not mean the victims should have to be involved with the redemption. I think toxic and abusive relationships are dealt with far too loosely in YA novels especially, and Franklin did an amazing job in reminding readers that it is not on the victim to give the abuser hope for redemption.
The Rest of the Story (The Plot, The Voice, and Other Things)
Onto the rest of the story, then. First and foremost, I adored the voice. I will read anything Lindsay A. Franklin writes solely because she has the voice of an angel. I mean, seriously. I never pick up a book on the shelves with a voice quite like this. It is so unique and fresh. It fits the story, the world, and the characters so unbelievably well. I love all of it. It changes every so slightly with the characters, too. There is a noticeable difference between Brac and Tanwen and Braith and Diggy. I just cannot talk about the voice enough.
Overall, I think the plot was well-written and relatively tight. It was brought full circle with Riwor. There were a lot of characters and a lot of moving parts in this story, and at times it was a little difficult to keep track of everything and everyone. The beginning is relatively slow, but once the Story Hunt begins, it moves rather fast . The one thing I will say is I felt, at times, like the discussion of rape overshadowed some of the plot points the previous books had been building to. And there’s nothing wrong with that—as I’ve said, it was handled delicately and well—but it was simply a lot to handle and gave the book a much heavier tone than the initial two more whimsical books had. I don’t count this as bad, just different from what I had expected.
The main themes in this story are hope, redemption, and abuse. Whether it was Riwor’s abuse of Tanwen, or what Diggy suffered, or Dray’s attempt on Braith, the themes of abuse were more than trickled throughout this narrative. Hope and redemption was handled especially well. Hope for Braith, despite her parents mistakes (I loved this), hope for Diggy despite the mistakes others made that left her feeling broken and empty, and hope/redemption for Brac despite his own mistakes. I thought the juxtaposition of these three characters’ redemption was incredibly powerful.
Overall, I gave this book 4.5/5 stars and I definitely recommend if you’re okay to deal with the heavier themes.
***I received an ARC from Lindsay A. Franklin and was not required to write a positive review. The views reflected are my own.***
Order The Story Hunter here.