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Last of the Talons - Review

I received a digital copy from TBR Beyond Book Tour via Entangled Teen. All reviews are my own.

Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim is about an assassin who is commissioned/forced to steal a gem-encrusted tapestry that happens to be owned by a Dokkaebi – a powerful goblin God. The Dokkaebi finds out and kidnaps the offending parties, threatening to end their lives for the disrespect, by way of Hunger Games style. He makes a deal with the assassin that she has 14 days to kill him, or he will find glory in her death. There are some conniving, scheming, revolutionaries, and romance, all mixed in the fantasy. As fire as this all sounds, I can only find myself giving half-stars to this one. It has all the makings for the tale to be epic, but there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on preventing me from giving it strong praises.

"After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina―the Reaper of Sunpo―is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…
Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life―if she kills him first.
Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina's swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister...all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.
Because one way or another, she'll take Rui's heart.
Even if it means giving up her own."

I loved the premise of this book. The Korean-based mythology and world-building are what kept my attention. This was my first Korean mythology-based story, and it was different! A good different. I've heard of the American version of the "Pied Piper," but never an Asian one. I like that Kim expanded on this creature and gave us a world underneath the nursery rhymes and children's follies. I had to look up some terms to understand the story and the language better, but following along was simple enough.

I had a love/tolerable relationship with some characters and their developments. Rui, the Dokkaebi, was to die for! He is the mixture of a trickster, playful, serious, and cocky creature that you don't see in most rulers. He is very unserious at times, but you can see the intelligence in his actions and that he is aware of all his surroundings and what's happening in his kingdom. When I think of Rui's demeanor, I think of King Bumi in the Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

Shin Lina, on the other hand, was a hit-and-miss for me. Lina is built to be this bad bitch of Sunpo, something similar to Emiko Soong in Ebony Gate. Yet, I don't see the bad bitch in her. She tells everyone and their mama that she is the Reaper of Sunpo, feared among most, mother of dragons! Yet, her plans get foiled everywhere she walks. She's gotten her ass beat more than enough times on the pages, and everyone knows her weakness, to which they exploit it. I don't know if calling her a master assassin with all of these fancy titles was the best choice because, as I'm reading it, her character development felt like a setup. Only when we got to the end of the story did we see who this fabled Reaper truly was; she was who I had been waiting the entire time I read.


Two aspects of the book had me questioning my feelings about the book's overall story: The aging and the romance. By now, if you are a fan of my reviews, you already know that one of my pet peeves is misguided aging when classifying books. Though this is a young adult fantasy, and the main character is 18, most of the time, it felt like I was reading about a 15-year-old acting too grown for her age. It could be the design of Lina's character since tragedy has followed her throughout her life, and she had to grow up quickly. Or it could be the dynamics of a God being hundreds and thousands of years old, compared to a human is the slight that throws me off. Whichever way you spin it, it feels off.


As for the romance addition, we know there would be an enemies-to-lovers trope. But it didn't feel natural. I didn't quite believe in how Lina and Rui formed their attraction—or at least on Lina's part. Rui's form of attraction made sense, but Lina needed some work. I won't say it was unnecessary to have the romance in this novel, but I will say the book could have been better without it.


Overall, I rated this book 3.5 stars. As a fellow reviewer mentioned on GoodReads, "My heart is saying this is worth a 4, but my head says it's a 3."  I liked the book very much, so I'm cracking open the sequel, Wrath of the Talons, today. The world-building and the character's attitude won me over, but I could have done without the romance, even though it ties the story together. The tale finished very open-ended, so I am curious about its direction in WOTT. With Lina's newfound power and mission, I want to see how she will use this gift. Onto the next!

Last of the Talon is available now!

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