Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

gates-thread-stone-lori-leeGates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1) by Lori M. Lee, published in 2014 by Skyscape.

Author. Goodreads. Book Depository. Amazon. Barnes & Noble.

Source: Netgalley (Thank you, Skyscape, for providing me with a free e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!).

Genre: YA fantasy.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her. 

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 2.5/5. 

Huh. This is a super-hard review to write: I’m not sure how I feel about the book. It’s also next to impossible to write it without including major plot/character spoilers, which is something I try to avoid, especially with the first book in a series. I love the cover! So pretty and shiny.

Kai is an interesting character. She has this cool ability to feel the threads of time and can grasp them and slow time for a few moments, but the time always rights itself. I liked that because she can’t change the past or affect the future or anything (at least not that we know of), and there’s a limit to her power. I dislike it when magic users can just do anything they want – Kai is not one of these.

The first half or so of the novel is rather slow-paced and I wasn’t sure how the various details were going to come toghether. As a reader, I felt clueless about the hints that are dropped (Reev’s tattoo, the weird segregation of the city, the remnants of a previous, obviously industrial society, the magic), but then Kai isn’t really up to speed with these things – she has a fairly normal, if a bit secretive, life up until the day that her brother-who-is-not-really-her-brother Reev disappears suddenly. A remark here: half of the conflicts in this novel could have been avoided if Reev simply told Kai everything he knew about her.

I really liked Avan, Kai’s friend who gives up his family’s shop and risks his life in order to help her search for Reev. What I didn’t like was Kai’s attitude towards the guy – he was supposedly something of a player (it’s implied that he even slept with people – men and women – in order to escape the terrible situation at home), and Kai just accepts the rumors as true, and keeps insulting him with them despite the fact that he clearly likes her. I get that she’s shy and doesn’t know her way around boys, but that’s no excuse to be hurtful. I *also get* that teenagers will act as teenagers, but they should also learn from their mistakes and not repeat them over and over again.

But what really bothered me here was the resolution of this story. AND I CAN’T GET INTO IT WITHOUT SPOILERS. So I’m just going to say that I’m not a fan of divine intervention or manipulation. There. This is the main reason why my rating is so low, apart from the fact that the ending was confusing in so many ways. I like to believe that we are more than just pawns in some greater force’s nefarious plans, so it bugs me when characters in a book fall prey to such machinations.

The final verdict: the first half of the book promised much and the second half didn’t deliver. I liked the characters, the magic system seemed really intriguing, and I’d love to find out more about the city’s past. I’m not sure that I’ll be reading The Infinitehowever.

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Have you read this book? What did you think about it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! :)

  • Thank you soo much for doing this review. This book really caught my interest and her power does sound amaaazing. I’m sad you didn’t like it, but what you said made me feel like there’s a chance I might still enjoy it. Oh man! It bugs me soo much that there might be problems but I still wanna read it!!

    • Kaja

      Hey, thanks for stopping by! :)
      I wanted to love this book SO MUCH! It just wasn’t meant to be. But give it a try, it might be a better fit for you.

  • Hmmm, interesting how ambivalent you are about this one. I’ve got it from NG…

    • Kaja

      I’ll be watching out for your review :) It’s not so much being ambivalent as trying to focus on the bright side… a 2.5 rating usually means I didn’t like the book, but it wasn’t complete poop, either.

  • Thanks for this review. This one and the second book caught my eye on NG but I resisted the urge to click the Read Now button. This review has given me a fresh perspective. I don’t think I would have issues with divine intervention, but I would have issues with a character who doesn’t learn. I think I’ll just pick up these books from Amazon on my own if I get curious again :)

    • Kaja

      Gah! See, this is terrible. I love recommending books I love to people but I hate discouraging others from reading stuff! What if this is totally your type of book and now you’re going to miss out on it? (I know, I’m giving my review/opinion way too much importance, but still).
      I admit, I fell for the pretty cover here :/
      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • I admit that I’ve been tempted by this cover artwork, too. Pretty shiny things are one of my many weaknesses. But since we always agree on YA fantasies I’m going to have to take a pass on this one, because I do NOT have time for a protagonist who slut shames her friends. So Avan may or may not have had sex with a bunch of people. WHO CARES?! Unless you’re in a relationship with him it ain’t none of her business. That’s my #1 YA pet peeve. /end rant

    Sorry you didn’t like this one! :(

    • Kaja

      Yeah… Serves me right for being fascinated by covers. It was the same with Ticker. We DO agree on YA fantasies, right? :) So cool.
      I really dislike this virgin/slut opposition, it’s been driving me up the wall (with this book and others). We need more healthy sexuality books.