Buddy Read: All Of Us Villains - a great fall read!
All of us Villains #1 by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman
Published Nov. 2021; 400 pages
First Sentence: "The Lowe family had always been the undisputed villains of their town's ancient, bloodstained story, and no one understood that better than the Lowe brothers."
Main Characters: Alistair Lowe; Isobel Macaslan; Gavin Grieve; Briony Thorburn; representatives of the seven main magic families
As described in the blurb, every 20 years an ancient curse forces the seven strongest magic families to send a teenager into battle to try to claim control of the biggest, primal magic until the next cycle when a new champion is named. These teens have been raised knowing that one champion from each family will be chosen, so they've been trained and prepared. If you feel hints of Hunger Games vibes, you're not wrong. The difference is magic.
“The nightmares had not taught him to fear the dark. The nightmares had taught him to become it.”
This is a world where simple magic spells can be purchased at the drugstore - things like hair color changes, or zits-be-gone (my invention), or keeping them awake all night to study. But, there are stores that sell more complex spells and those spellmakers are wooed to provide stronger spells to the various contestants.
The early chapters are devoted to introducing the 7 teens, though we really only get to know four - two boys and two of the girls. When the competition begins, alliances are formed, uneasy truces achieved, and even a little budding romance. But wait, they're opponents, right?
The structure is that each chapter is told from a different character's first person perspective. It gives a solid, well-rounded view of each contestant's background, magic abilities, and fears. I think the structure works well for this story.
My sister, Donna, and I agreed that the book is a good, entertaining read. There's plenty of action. The main characters are interesting and the magic is a strong component (though there were a few times when I was a bit confused by a spell). Only four of the seven combatants are actually given much background - kind of reminds me of Star Trek episodes where you knew the new guy joining the away party was going to die. That works here too.
Alstair Lowe is sort of the main narrator and was raised from the cradle to be heartless and cruel - anything to win and keep the magic in his family. I like the cracks in his facade as he got to know some of the contestants and starts to wonder if the curse can be broken. His character shows the most development so far. Donna did mention an issue with the names - and once she brought it up, I agreed. Though there are only seven main characters, there is inconsistency in referring to their names - sometimes the first name, sometimes the last.....pick a name and stick with it through the book so I can attach characteristics to that name and not have to remember the WHOLE name of each character. Rant over.
We like the idea of the Relics and Landmarks as the basis for the magical battlegrounds. And while the magic was cool, there could have been a bit more attention to the actual world building. Since the battleground is shrouded in a red cloud, how does the town outside know when someone is killed and who it is? How do people in the town fit into the overall magic of the story?
All in all, this is solid story, perfect for a fall (or Halloween) read. We've both reserved the next book at the library because, well, we have to know what happens. This book ends with a pretty major cliffhanger!
Have you read it? Would you recommend it as a spooky or Halloween-appropriate read?