I will admit that I JUST finished reading and I have been reading it more or less non-stop for the last couple of days. If I wasn't coupled with this arduous need to satisfy basic bodily functions and not being allowed to read while driving, I'm sure I would have finished this book sooner because my eyes were affixed to it even when I wasn't reading, like my retinas themselves missed the book when I wasn't reading.
For the most part I am willing to lookover a plot for strong characters, and I looooooooooooove all the characters in this book, most of all Zacharias. He is an incredibly charming character to me (he is of the reserved, inwardly emotional, kind of nerdy archetype that I tend towards anyway) and all the way to the end I was consumed with how much I wanted to wrap around him for both comfort and affection. Prunella also leaves little to be desired, and the romance between them is quiet and adorable enough that I was somewhat shamelessly wiggling my feet in anticipation as the book drew to a close and felt immensely satisfied.
The complication of the characters existing as PoC in their time period is really artfully constructed. Zacharias' conflicts in particular are well put together, as it doesn't shy away from the awkward position he is placed in - not just with his position as Sorcerer Royal, but his position as the "son" of the Wythes. The unfairness, the blindness to privilege that the Wythes exhibit at times, Zacharias is clearly hurt but accepting of people's failings, one could say almost to a fault. His turmoil over the Wythes isn't undercut, and it gives immediate dimension to his character.
The plot doesn't wilt under scrutiny either. I thought it was very well put together and unfolded really nicely. Though whatever was afflicting Zacharias is made almost absurdly apparent. Not in what it really is, but the book draws attention to it a little shamelessly - though I guess for good reason, considering I didn't solve the mystery before it was told to me (which may just be in an indication of what I'm like, I suppose).
I want to thank the universe for this book. While I was festering in a kind of depressive haze over my want of prominent, well written people of color focused books, which resulted in my meandering attention span re: reading in general as of late, this book came along and gave me hope. I love it for this and so much more I LOVE THIS BOOK, CARVE IT IN MY GRAVESTONE RIGHT NOW MAYBE I'LL WRITE A MORE FOCUSED REVIEW WHEN I'VE SLEPT ON THE BOOK AND REMEMBER HOW TO EXIST OUT OF MY LOVE OF THIS BOOK and it's a SERIES PLEASE GIVE IT ALL TO ME RIGHT NOW
AS A BOOKSELLER I AM GOING TO SELL THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE I SEE I WILL SHOVE THIS BOOK INTO THEIR HANDS AND SCREAM FOR HOURS