Last of the Talons (Talons, #1)

Last of the Talons (Talons, #1)
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Release Date
September 27, 2022
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After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina―the Reaper of Sunpo―is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…

Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life―if she kills him first.

Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina's swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister...all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.

Because one way or another, she'll take Rui's heart.

Even if it means giving up her own.

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1 review
All the stars for this fantastic angsty, dark YA fantasy romance
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LAST OF THE TALONS is a lush and enchanting YA fantasy. Lina is known as the Reaper of Sunpo, a title bestowed upon her as the assassin of the Talons, a gang in Sunpo. After a terrible night for which she feels responsible, her gang was destroyed and she was captured by the Blackbloods from whom she is forced to work under threat of her little sister's life. After being forced to steal and destroy a tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple, she incurs the wrath of the Dokkaebi emperor, the Pied Piper.

When she is captured and taken into the Dokkaebi realm, she is offered a chance to save her own life - she must kill the Pied Piper within 14 days or her life is forfeit. If she dies, her little sister will be too, at the hands of the Blackbloods. As she spends time with Pied Piper, Lina will find herself in the middle of rebellion as well caught between her task and her heart.

What I loved: This is a lush fantasy with plenty of atmosphere and world-building. The mythology and folklore around Sunpo and the Dokkaebi was fascinating, and we learn some of it through stories and information passed during the story. This larger context was so important to building and understanding humanity, the Dokkaebi, and their shared history.

Lina is a really compelling character. She is dealing with grief, angst, and a broken heart from the loss of the Talons and the ways in which her life has changed and is challenged. Her life has been revolving around self-recrimination, hate, and a fierce need to protect her sister for so long. As she experiences the Dokkaebi realm and gets to know Rui, she begins to find other purposes, and her changing perspectives challenge her in new ways. Her character growth throughout the story really endears her to the reader, as she begins to take account and control over her life and her plans. This also lends itself to a strong romance, and I loved the dark and angsty build of it all, caught in a cat-and-mouse game with rules that neither seems to fully understand - an incendiary relationship building into an inferno.

Rui is also a fascinating character, and his story is building as he tells it to Lina. There is still a lot that we as the reader do not yet know, and I am curious to understand more of the separation between the worlds and the sacrifices made that have led to his role as the Piper. Although the reader gets tidbits, more story is clearly forthcoming, and I am so excited to see that this will a series, so we can learn more in the future.

The main plot is riveting with themes of family, loss/guilt, survival, the power of the heart, the importance of self-determination, what really makes a monster, trust, and healing. The lush world-building and setting of Sunpo, the Dokkaebi realm, as well as another realm which we glimpse later, create a really strong and potent story that will consume the reader. The pace is really perfect, balancing between the background, present, and action/adventure so well. This is a book that hooks the reader from the start and keeps them turning pages until the end.

Fans of dark, angsty romance reads with a fascinating plot and world will definitely need to pick this one up. Although it is part of a series, the major plots of this first book are wrapped up, so there is not a huge cliffhanger. I really appreciated this as it is a very satisfying conclusion to the first book, and I cannot wait to see where these characters and world will go and what will happen next.

Final verdict: With lush world-building and compelling characters, LAST OF THE TALONS is an unforgettable YA fantasy with elements of adventure, romance, and mystery that are sure to thrill readers. Highly recommend for fans of THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US, RAYBEARER, DANCE OF THIEVES, and TO KILL A KINGDOM.
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