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.
As soon as I finished Gates of Thread and Stone, I had to go back and read the synopsis to see why I had picked it up in the first place. It turns out that the blurb was extremely misleading: I came in expecting a lot of time manipulation and the Labryinth out of Greek Mythology, and unfortunately, the latter was nowhere to be found.
The beginning of Gates of Thread and Stone held so much promise. The brief introduction to the Labyrinth (unfortunately not of the minotaur variety) was intriguing, Kai’s relationship with her brother, Reev, was extremely heartwarming and filled with fierce love, loyalty and protectiveness, and Kai’s ability to slow down time sounded really neat. Unfortunately, as soon as Reev went missing, the story started to go downhill.
While I initially admired Kai’s loyalty and determination, and found myself enamoured by her narrative voice, I quickly found myself wanting more from her. Her ability to manipulate time was scarcely seen, and the focus was, instead, on developing Kai’s physical strengths. While I understand that the ability to defend oneself is important, the story lacked a sense of urgency or a feeling of danger, in part due to its slow pace, causing these scenes to feel out of place.
Another area where Gates of Thread and Stone lacked impact was the relationship between Avan and Kai. Although Kai kept mentioning that her focus was finding her brother, the number of times that she blushed over her thoughts of Avan and fantasized about his neck was rather ridiculous (seriously, a whole paragraph was dedicated to that). Kai and Avan let their feelings go unmentioned (aloud, anyways) for almost the entire story, causing the search for Reev to be overshadowed by romantic angst.
The world-building was confusing at best, as it contained elements that ranged from dystopia to steampunk. It hinted at several different mythologies, however many of these didn’t seem to fit the story very well — such as the gargoyles, who appeared at the beginning and were never mentioned again. I understand that this is going to be a series, so the world-building will likely be elaborated upon in later books, however as it stands, I’m still not entirely sure what the world of Ninurta even was, let alone how it came to be.
Overall, Gates of Thread and Stone had a lot of potential, but its slow pace, overwhelming “romance,” and disjointed world-building caused it to fall flat.