I read The Ravens last year because I have a weakness for witchy stories – and the idea of a witchy story set in a sorority house had my attention. I liked The Ravens, though I did have a few problems with it, and unfortunately I liked The Monarchs slightly less as I was frustrated with a lot of the character arcs.
Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
The sorority girls at Kappa Rho Nu—the Ravens—are determined to restore balance to the world. After destroying an ancient talisman and barely saving their sorority in the process, they’ll go to any lengths to keep their secret as Westerly’s most powerful coven of witches.
Scarlett Winter, a legacy Raven, has finally gotten what she’s always wanted: the Kappa Rho Nu presidency. After the disaster that killed the sorority’s last president, Scarlett is determined that no sister will fall under the sway of wicked magic ever again. But the powers of the presidency have their own pitfalls—and Scarlett has big shoes to fill.
Vivi Devereaux, a freshman, finally knows what it feels like to belong. For the first time ever, she’s got it all: her Kappa Rho Nu sisters and a sweet (and hot) boyfriend. When Scarlett assigns Vivi the coveted role of social chair, Vivi is determined to live up to her Big’s expectations—even if that means dabbling in a new form of magic.
Unbeknownst to the Ravens, new rivals and ancient evils lurk on Westerly’s campus. With Kappa Rho Nu’s future on their shoulders and their pasts still haunting them, will Scarlett and Vivi be able to save their sisterhood once again?
What did I think?
One of the biggest points of frustration with me in this book was actually something that frustrated me in The Ravens too. The way Scarlett is characterised is mostly fun to read, a powerful and passionate witch who cares about her sister above nearly everything else. I love that, in principle, and the budding friendship between Vivi and Scarlett in The Ravens and continuing friendship in The Monarchs is a delight. But the way Scarlett acts with her love interests? So fucking annoying. In book one, she gets annoyed at Mason and Vivi for kissing – even though she was trying to date Jackson. In The Ravens, Jackson has another love interest and Scarlett gets annoyed and jealous again – even though she’s flirting with a new character and agreeing to dates. This hypocrisy is beyond irritating to me, and it made me less interested in Scarlett’s romantic arcs. In The Ravens I loved the way that Scarlett was challenging the way that she was raised and her family’s beliefs. In The Monarchs, she seemed to lean back into her elitist beliefs with no hesitation.
Half of the conflict in Vivi’s section of the book was entirely caused by her refusing to explain things or answer questions. This was miscommunication taken off the scale because the book didn’t even attempt to justify why Vivi didn’t just… answer questions. Instead she kept secrets with no explanation and it caused her conflict with Mason and her sorority sisters, even though at the start of the book there was a whole passage where she talked about feeling as though she can tell Mason anything. Why didn’t we get to actually see that, then? Instead, the way she reacted leads me to my biggest gripe with The Monarchs.
I repeatedly had some like, consent ick issues with this book. There’s a love spell sub-plot, which obviously has some super squicky consent issues, and I don’t think that this was addressed enough in the end, but I could accept this. It’s seen as a horrible use of magic and manipulative abuse. But on the other hand, Scarlett and Vivi both use their magic in ways that I found equally manipulative and gross, and that was just seen as ‘I shouldn’t do this, oh well’. Scarlett attempted to read a guy’s thoughts on their first date, and Vivi used magic to make Mason forgive her for something instead of having a conversation. The fact that this wasn’t challenged because it was done by the good witches? Ick.
There was a lot going on in this book. By the time I reached a third into the book, there were so many plot lines going on that it kind of felt like things were just being thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Ultimately, they did resolve into a kind of cohesive ending, but I did feel like we had several aspects suddenly brought up that weren’t mentioned at all in the first book – demons?? witch hunters?? companions?? – so it felt like I had missed a whole book in the middle of a trilogy, rather than going into the second part of a duology. The blood magic was super interesting and totally underutilised, and it took over 50% of the book for me to start actually feeling invested in the plot. Even then, I managed to guess the plot twist about halfway through. Once we’d reached the halfway point the book got a lot more interesting and I enjoyed the second half enough that I felt like I was racing through it and I’m definitely glad I finished the book.
This wasn’t a terrible book, I guess, but I was disappointed. The first half was significantly poorer than the second, and as a result it felt like the second half was badly paced. If we’d had those plots seeded throughout the book then it wouldn’t have felt so rushed. Ultimately, this series is a fun magical romp but I wish that there was more focus on the magic than the weird not-quite romantic subplots.
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Release Date: 11th January 2022