Sequel Prep: The Unbroken (Magic of the Lost #1) by C. L. Clark

Calling this book The Unbroken feels a bit premature given the circumstances of the story, but maybe that’s just the pessimist in me who’s too preoccupied with how I am feeling anything but, with my confidence and faith in the two protagonists in shambles at my feet. Mixed in with all the pieces of anything and everything they touch.

Let’s recognize the obvious: when it comes to a story about invading colonizers who have oppressed and subjugated another people, stripping them of their home, children, culture, beliefs, etc., no one should be team invaders. And though Princess Luca may truly want to enact changes that work towards a future that balances the scales of inequality a bit more, at the end of the day she is still there with selfish intent: to quell a rebellion by bringing them to heel, to take even more from them when the empire has already taken so much, and to prove herself worthy of the throne being kept from her by doing so.

So yeah, I’m going to be in Touraine’s corner no matter what – is what I told myself. I truly wanted to be. But damn does she make it hard, as I felt so off balance trying to keep up with the logic in her decision making, more often than not. Let’s just say that if you’re going to gamble with the lives of those who’ve been taken advantage of time and time again for their own benefit, you better be a great gambler. And Touraine is anything but. She doesn’t even know the rules of the game she’s playing. I don’t know if she’s incredibly dumb, willfully ignorant, blindly hypocritical, has zero gift of foresight, or any mixture of the four – admittedly her view of the world and who is deserving of her trust and faith has been warped by the abuse of her upbringing, something that takes a lot of work to deconstruct – but there came a point when I stopped feeling like maybe I was being unfair or not sympathetic enough, and that was when people continued to suffer (and die) because of the choices she makes in her quest to find her purpose. Until eventually all the potential purposes left standing started avoiding eye contact with her, afraid she’d pick them next.

Not that I can say Luca is any better, as she starts playing catch-up in the game of “who can make those around them the most exasperated?” I get it, desperation makes people do stupid things, but they keep doing very stupid, incredibly frustrating things; so stupid that even they can’t help but acknowledge that they might in fact be the problem.

Seriously, what a pair they are. Admittedly I’d forgive a lot if the relationship between these two was strong enough to distract from everything else, but unfortunately even the chemistry left me a bit confused. Other than a bit of a spark, I honestly struggled to understand what either woman saw in the other as they kind of hover in this weird grey area of manipulation vs subservience. You know, exactly what you want in a potentially romantic dynamic, right? They’re clearly attracted to each other, and I’m assuming some of the argumentative sparks did a lot to catalyze some level of desire, but I just didn’t really buy in, hardly feeling or believing they’d be drawn to each other after everything they put each other through.

All of this to say I found myself a bit disappointed in The Unbroken, as I distraughtly begged Luca and Touraine to get their shit together. And though their dynamic did bring about that painfully satisfying compulsion to burn through the book, as certain relationship tropes often do, I don’t know if I’m willing to trust them enough to go through all this over again in the sequel.

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