Ever since she was a young child, when she discovered the piano locked away in a room her parents forbade her from entering, Thea has been drawn to music. She’s an accomplished pianist by the time she leaves her home in Bulgaria to attend college at Princeton, the same university her mysterious older sister Elza attended 15 years ago. Thea is passionate about music, particularly Chopin, but she is consumed by her quest to discover what happened to her sister on campus all those years ago. Between Thea’s attempts to delve into her family’s past and her questions about her future, however, stand two very different men hoping to claim her present.
The potential for an intriguing, multi-layered story is here. It’s obvious early on that the myth of Orpheus is tied into the story and I was curious to see how it came together — I wasn’t completely sold on this storyline but I was able to go along with it. The musical aspect of the story is excellent — Thea is a talented pianist and the concert scenes are among the best in the book. Even though I couldn’t hear it, Krassi made me feel the music.
Nothing hooks me like a good mystery, however, and it was this aspect of the story that kept me turning the pages, even as I became more and more annoyed with the “romance”. The main mystery circles around Thea’s older sister Elza, the sister who died on the very campus Thea now attends. Elza was older than Thea, Thea has no memory of her, and her parents have done their best to keep her from knowing she ever had an older sister. Why?
There’s also mystery surrounding one of Thea’s love interests, Rhys. Some of it is because he’s a jerk who doesn’t think it’s important for the girl he’s “claimed as his” to know anything about him, some of it is because what he’s subjected to once a month and why is a bit of a stretch, even for a girl whose own family has its ties to folklore. Had he been more likable, this could have been good. Or had Thea been less captivated by him. What doesn’t work for me is that Thea is a strong, independent, intelligent character who enters a relationship with a guy who makes her uncomfortable and mocks her discomfort. Okay, she originally thinks he’s someone else, someone she has romanticized in her head, but his behavior should have dashed those romantic notions out of her head immediately. Aside of him mocking her, aside of him storming off when he doesn’t get his way (like when he wants to have sex with her up against a tree in the middle of the neighborhood in the middle of the day and she has the audacity to say NO), there’s also the ick factor. Rhys may be devastatingly handsome but he’s at least in his late 20s and still partying with frat boys. He’ll explain that later but I still say ick.
There’s another love interest, the guy Thea originally thought Rhys was. Jake annoyed me too, but less so. I was annoyed that he decided to step aside for his big brother “because Rhys is a good guy and no one deserves happiness more than him.” ??? I read all 374 pages and I never saw that Rhys. I only saw an entitled, controlling jerk. Whom Krassi wants us to believe is madly in love with Thea. Rhys wants her, yes, but at what point did he fall in love with her? The girl who looks exactly like the girl who’s been making his life miserable for the past 15 years or so (he only sees a passing resemblance, by the way, which also asks the reader to suspend their disbelief just a bit too much).
And there’s Thea herself. She wants to be with Jake, she wants to be with Rhys, she wants to be with Jake, she wants to be with Rhys. It’s the romantic storyline that Krassi absolutely butchers. This storyline is far worse than bad Twilight fan fiction. Meyer at least gave us a somewhat believable love triangle — and, as annoying as Bella Swan could be, at least she wasn’t promising herself to whichever guy she happened to be alone with at the moment.
Adding insult to injury, Krassi decided to end the book with a cliffhanger and that’s a major pet peeve of mine. The “love” triangle will continue in sequels but I have no plans to see how it plays out.