Gates of Thread and Stone hooked me with its intriguing title, pretty cover and captivating summary. When I found a copy in a local charity shop a few weeks later I picked it up and added it to my TBR pile, partly because it interested me and also because it was shorter than I was expecting, so I hoped to breeze through it in a few days. While there was plenty about the story that I liked, other elements left me feeling suitably underwhelmed.
I’ll admit the first few chapters were promising. We get a glimpse of Kai’s unique powers and the world she lives in. There’s a bit of clunky fantasy slang to remind us that this is a fantasy world and then we’re launched into the story with a healthy dose of mystery and intrigue. We also meet Reev, Kai’s adopted brother and there’s a bit of backstory followed by some cute scenes of the two of them. I really did love Lee’s portrayal of their sibling relationship in this book; it felt very realistic and Reev felt very much like a brother and not just a plot device to kick-start Kai’s story. Then there’s the romance. While I didn’t really care for Avan as a love interest or for how long it took to develop I did enjoy the way that their relationship didn’t distract from the mission. Kai never once stopped running for her life to have a quick snog or forget about her rescue mission at the merest touch of her boyfriend’s hand. This girl had her priorities sorted, at least.
Let’s start with first impressions, because I personally thought that the title of the story was very misleading. There are no gates made of thread. There are not even any gates made of stone, at least none that have any huge significance to the story. The ‘threads’ are metaphorical threads of time that Kai is able to manipulate but never in the story do they serve as any kind of gateway. In fact if I had not read the blurb before going into this I would probably have been expecting an entirely different book about high fantasy sewing. Kai herself was nothing special. She was a feisty enough heroine but she was absolutely not used to her full potential and her powers were sorely underutilised. I felt next to nothing for her or her budding romance (which was both parties danced around for nearly the entirety of the book for the sake of tension, which was just plain stupid). Likewise the secondary characters were poorly fleshed out, hollow and, quite frankly, forgettable. I couldn’t give you their names and I couldn’t tell you what they added to the story. New names simply demonstrated that Kai had travelled to a new location, something I found equally irritating because the world building was sloppy beyond the confines of the walled city the novel begins in. It lacked depth, a sense of scale and failed to grip me. Everything felt surface level and didn’t imbue me with confidence that the writer had taken their time to work out the intricacies of life in this world.
Gates of Thread and Stone was an okay book and I’d probably give it a score of 2.5/5, however there was nothing exceptionally stand-out about it and as a result I’m not fussed to pick up the sequel at all. It’s a quick read without too many of the common YA tropes, just not my cup of tea I’m afraid.