Gates of Thread and Stone, by Lori M. Lee, was published in 2014 by Skyscape.
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 Reeve 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 Reeve 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 Reeve, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
To be completely honest right off the bat, I only skimmed the last thirty or so pages of Gates of Thread and Stone. At that point I was so fed up with the characters, the world, the plot, and the writing that it was either skim the rest of the book or stop reading altogether.
First, the worldbuilding is terribly expositional. I prefer my fantasy novels to place me in a world and give me little to no explanation about the things in it. I suppose Lee was trying to go for a more dystopian feel, or at least that’s what I felt since dystopian novels usually have the sort of exposition that Lee has (telling you why things are the way they are and how things work, etc.), but the book is definitely fantasy, not dystopian. I don’t want to be told every last thing about how the money system works or how Everything Changed When The Fire Nation Attacked. I want to see it.
Another thing I didn’t like about the worldbuilding was the completely made-up swear word that Kai uses copiously throughout the book. It smacks of “This made-up world is made-up and so to prove it I made up a swear word. Worldbuilding!” There’s no explanation at all what the word “drek” even implies. We don’t know what it represents in this world. The only thing we get is this vague sense of “oh, this is a bad word.” Is it supposed to be some sort of shortened form of “dreck” or what? Without any sort of idea what the word is or what it implies, Kai might as well be saying “gihigglefresh” for all the sense it made to me. I’m not asking for some sort of definition or description. I just think that if you make up a swear word, you need to connect it to the world you created so that it doesn’t seem self-indulgent and/or downright silly.
As for the rest of the book (plot, characters), it’s generic, predictable, and boring. I think it would have been more interesting for Kai to be with Mason rather than the boring, predictable choice of Avan. Also, Kai was an irritating protagonist. I don’t think she ever fully listened to what anyone was telling her, which led to a lot of stupid decisions on her part.
Apparently there’s a sequel, but I have no interest in reading it.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
Warnings: Should I put down swearing? I suppose I’ll put down swearing. “Drek” is certainly meant as a swear word. Also, sensual situations.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
I hadn’t wanted the weekend to end. I wanted another day. I wanted it so badly that when I woke up the next morning to find Reeve still home, I thought I’d gotten my wish.
The thing was—I had. It was Sunday again.
Reeve had gone to work only to discover that no one else realized it was supposed to be Monday.
Gates of Thread and Stone had too many worldbuilding problems for me. It was too much tell and not enough show, and the made-up swear actually irritated me, as did Kai. The rest of the characters were generic and boring, and I ended up only skimming the last couple of chapters.
You can buy this here: Gates of Thread and Stone