House of Ash and Shadow by Leia Stone
Sometimes, we all need a little bit of YA fantasy to help us escape the day-to-day. When I picked up "House of Ash and Shadow," I was hopeful that this would be a classic dive into all my favorite tropes. Unfortunately, while Stone delivers on the tropes, this book lacks the depth to make it an enjoyable read or a series worth continuing.
The main character, Fallon, embodies all the stereotypical traits a YA heroine must have. She is oh so skinny and small, poor, and helps support her single father with her one friend while living in her "hut." However, just as her characterization is unoriginal, her story arc throughout the book is equally uninspired and problematic for my tastes. Fallon can't touch anyone because of a curse, except for the hottie prince, for no apparent reason, who she just can't hate, no matter how much he mistreats her. She is entirely focused on her romantic interests, her desire to have children, and her fixation on being kissed. The character is not only a blatant stereotype but also lacks the depth of character to motivate any of her heroic actions. Plot points in this book fall down from on high, laid out with very little explanation.
In addition to the poor characterization and weak female lead, the novel is riddled with modern slang that makes it read like fanfiction you might find on AO3. I'll note that I am not this author's target demographic, and her young readers, I'm sure, will enjoy the romantic and dramatic love triangle. However, there are plenty of other YA novels in this genre that I believe would better suit any reader.