The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge

This book has the most awfully good storytelling that i’ve seen in a YA sequel. I love the way Miss Kittredge weave her stories in a way that its entertaining and intriguing at the same time. Its been a long time since I last read the first book but in this book, I find myself back to where I was in the story which is by its own way, are not fillers. I like Kittredge’s Nocturne adult series but I gave up after 5th or 6th book since the series is pretty familiar with Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson books so I probably will do a proper rereading of it. I haven’t read her Black London books so I would definitely read those too.

Last year, there was these phase where I read mostly “steampunk” books that writers being experimenting with and I read the first book, Iron Thorn, along with another similar book, The Iron Witch. Both are extremely long winded read like hundred of episodes of a telenovela. A couple of weeks ago, I read the second book, The Wood Queen and oh my.. I was so pissed off with it. Thats why it took me long enough to get myself to read this book because I had to take my mind off YA genre with serial for a while. Plus, Iron Thorn is very lengthy book for me and although I love it, it does drain your soul away until you get to this second book. I dislike reviewing sequels without giving off spoilers from the first book, which is why I often comment several paragraphs on Goodreads but then its unavoidable.

The book started off immediately after Aoife escaped Lovecraft after destroying it with her weird, inherited powers from her father side as the Gateminder. Conrad was shaking off the effects of the iron madness, Cal in love with Bethina (is that her name? not sure) but he’s hiding a darker side in him (involving flesh-eating part) and Dean supporting Aoife throughout the way while she’s still reeling about her role as a destroyer and the thought of her leaving her mother in the chaotic cities, depressed her even more. While travelling through the mist, a group of Erlkin spotted them as fugitives and took them to a floating city in the air where Aoife met with Dean’s mother.  (sounded very FF9 I know) While in captivity, Aoife noted that she was of age where the effects of iron would cause her madness and began to feel sideeffects of it when she use her weird against mechanical machineries and she began a dream of a man who knew her by name and talk to her about time. In the floating city (I dont remember the name), they were attacked by the Procter (which I often pronounce with Protractor.. weirdly) and Aoife, Conrad, Dean, Cal and Bethina escaped and fell into a dead forest where they found a gate which Aoife open and she found out that she really did broke the veil of the world before she went back to Lovecraft and see the destruction that she had caused and found out that her mother was missing.

I had misgivings about this book, mostly because I felt the length was more appropriately well done for readers but shortening this book when the sequel will be out in a year is not a fun thing to do. I usually hated first POV novels but the storytelling is forgiving and I found myself empathising with the character with every steps she took and with the story interchangeable and without fillers, the book is enjoyable to read.

I found loads of reviewers hated the narration (calling the main character to shut up in a first POV defeats the purpose of writing a story about the character) which the book to be perfectly honest, doesn’t do anything wrong. The character think a lot, I think a lot all the time. She’s struggling with her identity, everyone wanted her dead or wanted to use her. She doesn’t ask to be born half-fae and half-gateminder. She’s conflicted, she’s grown up despite being barely 16. When I was 16, I only worried that I can’t memorize the geometric equations in advance mathematics and memorizing the dates in history text book about islamic civilization (which to be perfectly honest, most of it was sugar-coated) and weighted by the sudden responsibility and the world depended on her since she had something to do with tearing the fabric between the realms and making it vulnerable to wreck more havoc upon the world.

Really, it was that deep.

Unfortunately, certain parts reminded me of Olivia Dunham which in itself was a spoiler already. Why does everyone copy you, Olive?

But I do love this series more and look forward to the future publications. For most parts, it does build up well to the book’s climax and provide the foundations for bigger things in the next book. Oh, Aoife screwed up many things and many irreversible things. Which made it a good read.

Most of all, I’m very critical about some reviewers preferences which may influence the Goodreads rating especially with some overhyped publications that people obsessed about and when I look at people who adore certain books, I find myself in utter bewilderment. But truthfully, this book is very well written unlike the steampunk failure I have to tolerate through. I like the details and the works of the world building, the airships, the subs, the palaces, ruins, forest, mist, ocean…. … I do love descriptive works.

Oh another thing, I don’t find romance elements in this book to be prominent enough to be label as Romance. Yes, there’s Aoife and Dean but you know those insta-love thing that 80% YA books have? well.. Dean are like Peter Bishop. He helped the protagonist initially but stick around until the relationship blossoms. I guess, its more natural way to approach the story. It does retain the innocent fragility of first love and Aoife despite her kept falling into traps and trying to get people killed and herself nearly killed, she did try to do things right. She admitted herself that she did something terribly wrong and wanted to redeem herself.

That’s the whole philosophical and psychological approach of growing up is right there. But unfortunately people don’t get. Naturally.

Goodreads rating: 5 star (mainly because I like the inner conflict)

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