Well life has well and truly knocked me down for the past month or so, and while everything is in disarray outside the blog, I am trying to get back into the swing of things. And first things first, that means catching up on my blog tours and reviews – and my sincerest apologies to Escapist Tours and the author for being so delayed.
These Gossamer Strings was a book I was looking forward, and delighted to have the chance to read and review, as I really enjoyed the first two books and you can find my reviews for them here: Where Shadows Lie and Whispers of Stone.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
A Silence is Broken. The River Beckons. The Forgotten Wait.
With eighteen days until her tribunal and Water Rite, Elenor must find a way to save her doena and keep her throne. The threat of war looms larger and only an alliance through marriage has the potential to save it. But who to trust when all her closest allies have secrets of their own?
The past is creeping up on them, a web of maneuvers and lies spreading back to before the fall of the DomEmpire. Gabriel can feel it constricting around them, drawing him ever closer to a future he never wanted. Confronting the truth of his heritage may be the only way to save Lirin, but at what cost?
Perhaps one the desert has already paid. Shaken after the death of the Red, the Mondaer must choose their path forward. Protect the new Gatekeeper and Incarnate as they have always done, or embrace a future without reliance on Gifts? Fedrik and Fay’s safety depends on the answer, and it’s not looking good. Would they be better off trusting Daemon, or is North right that he intends to use them as a weapon?
These Gossamer Strings is the final installment of the first arc of the Last Gift Series. Threads torn asunder are weaving back together and the Gatekeeper is coming for his Incarnate.
I had been waiting for this book! Whispers of Stone had left me wanting to know what happened next, and mercifully These Gossamer Strings gives us just that as it picks up the threads of the story at the same point, and in such a way that I found myself just flying through this beefy book. Returning to this world, and these characters felt a lot like settling down in nook with old friends… if that nook was on a roller coaster, with dragon fire on all sides, and the distinct possibility of twists and turns that will catch you by surprise and have you holding your breath as those flames come a little too close.
There was a lot packed into this book, and with the intrigue and pieces falling into place that have been built up in plot lines, and hints, over the course of the previous books, I think it would be impossible to fully describe the plot even if I was willing to spoil it (which I’m not). What I will say is that Pescatore does an amazing job of balancing all those previously established elements, while introducing new ones and continuing to expand on the world, the characters and the plot with the introduction of new threads, without dropping the ball on any of them, and even with the feeling of being on a roller coaster at times, I was never confused or lost about the different threads that were unfolding, and that is down to the author’s skill as a storyteller.
It’s also in part down to the characters. As with the previous two books, These Gossamer Strings is intensely character-driven, and in this one it felt as though the entire cast of characters really found their feet. There had been a lot of development, and making sense of the various situations they found themselves in during the previous books, and here it felt like it was really bearing fruit. Which isn’t to say that there wasn’t more growth and development throughout this book, because there was, but it felt like there was more of a foundation here, and it felt like a wonderful payoff for their arcs during the previous books. It also meant that it was so easy to fall into each character’s plotline, making sense of it with them, seeing them fly now that they had goals.
“ Elenor was too, once, but cruelty is all she’s ever known from those who should have been closest to her. That has a way of warping people.”
Elenor has been a favourite of mine throughout all the books, so I will admit to being a bit biased towards her, but she really did steal the limelight in this one. In Whispers of Stone we could see her maturing and coming into her own as she stepped into a role of authority, and dealt with the threats around her, but that development was raw and fresh. Here it feels like she has really come of age, and while she is still learning, still growing into who she needs to be, there was an assuredness that was enrapturing to read about. I also loved, seeing her relationship Claire and the challenges that they faced both internal and external, and I have to say that of all the characters Claire was the one that took me by surprise the most. She hadn’t felt quite as developed as some of the others in the earlier books, but here, she not only shared Elenor’s limelight but stole her own, and it felt as though we got to really know her in this book and not just because of that relationship. And, honestly, Claire is a perfect example of just how much Pescatore can do with her characterisation, and how invested she can make the reader become.
Gabriel was another character who came into his own in These Gossamer Strings, and was another that stole the show, and underwent some of the greatest development while remaining the wonderful character I’d come to love; and I have to say his part of the ending was one of my favourite moments in the book and felt like a very fitting step for a character who had such an integral role in everything.
“I care because, unlike North, I believe that the core of this snarly behavior is a hurting heart and centuries of life without people who can tell you to stop.”
I still adore Daemon, and where I said it felt like we were starting to see the layers being peeled away to see who he was at his core in Whispers of Stone, that process very much continues in this book. He still has his moments where I would gleefully shake some sense into him, but he was very much a favourite – and seeing his concern, and his efforts, and the vulnerabilities that he tried to hide was fantastic. He was also central to some of the most action-packed moments, and the cause of more than one held breath!
That isn’t to say that all the characters are likeable – some are downright detestable – and even those that are favourites, have so many moments and aspects that have you questioning them. And it’s fantastic, because not only does it add to the intrigue which has coloured so much of this series, but it also shows the depth and variety of the characterisation. These are not paragons, they are people shaped by events, and beliefs, and trapped by situations, and forced to act sometimes against their own natures, and it is just such a great dimension to have woven throughout the storylines.
The worldbuilding has also continued to expand throughout the series, developing as the characters have learned more about the world and universe, and I love that we got to see so many new aspects in this third book. It really felt as though the scope of the world and all its elements were really being pushed, and that sense of breadth and depth was really captured with the interweaving of new and old elements. In a series that features so much intrigue and shifting allegiances, it was great to have insights into different factions that were involved, and it created a much more rounded view of the events. Everything about the worldbuilding, whether it be the magical system or the dragons, to the more mundane aspects of life, to the complex political webs is incredibly well thought-out, and here is where you can really feel the author’s love for the world shining through; and I love that it still feels as though there is more waiting to be discovered at the edge of the map.
It’s a little hard to judge These Gossamer Strings as the end of a trilogy. On the one hand, I loved the story threads that it did tie together and seeing the arc that was started in Whispers of Stone come to completion was fantastic. On the other hand, it does feel like there is some threads that weren’t resolved – that said, I can’t really voice that as a criticism, because it means there is more to come! I think like others, I hadn’t fully realised that this series was just one arc in this shared world and looking at it in that light then I am even more satisfied with the ending, and it feels fitting that there are tendrils of story and character reaching out into the future for those stories still to come. Also, outwith any thought of plotlines being tied up and future stories, that ENDING!!! Remember when I said at the beginning it felt like a roller coaster coming a little too close to dragon fire? Well yeah, this ending really did live up to that.
The Last Gift has been a fantastic series from start to finish, and These Gossamer Strings was a strong conclusion to this part of the story. Pescatore has really created something different with this series which blends so many elements and storylines, but never loses sight of them or itself, and has a truly compelling cast of characters. I can’t wait to see where she takes this next, and if you haven’t picked up this series yet then I strongly recommend it!
Allegra grew up in a small village in northern Tuscany as the daughter of two artists. She was raised on the works of J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Frank Herbert, and many others, all read aloud to her while she drew and played make-believe. She began to write at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped since.
After many moves and dozens of countries visited, she now lives in a cozy cottage in Western PA. She is accompanied in her current adventures by husband Job, co-conspirator and long-time writing partner Tobias, and a small army of furry and scaly pets. When not writing or daydreaming, Allegra rules her kitchen with an iron first and feeds everyone who walks through her door. She also gardens, dabbles in various art forms, and spins stories for her tabletop gaming group.
As a disabled woman and staunch LGBTQ ally, Allegra hopes to write engaging, diverse, and representative Fantasy and Science Fiction, where people who do not often see themselves center stage get the chance to shine.
Her debut book, Where Shadows Lie, was an SPFBO Semi-Finalist and is a CIBA award finalist. It is the first book of The Last Gift series, and the first title of Project Ao, by Ao Collective Publishing. Other titles in Project Ao include NACL: Eye of the Storm (2021 SPFBO Semi-Finalist) and A Bond of Thread.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.