The story, as a whole, was decent. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more, riddled with cliches though it was, if not for one little problem. At some point, the love story hijacked the plot, doing everything in its power to be as annoying as humanly possible.
The irritating love story is mainly between Victor’s twin brother, Konrad, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth. The rest is an invention of Victor’s mind. Actually, everyone is in love with Elizabeth. I’m not sure if it’s her “wild cat fury” (groan) that makes her so appealing or if Switzerland ran out of young women and she was the last one left.
Somewhere in the middle of the story, Victor is the last person to come to the not all that shocking discovery that Elizabeth and Konrad are in love. Now suddenly Victor is determined to make Elizabeth his, whether she likes it or not. There were already hints dropped here and there in the story that imply that Victor may have some sort of feelings for Elizabeth, but if these urges went any deeper than “I have a boner for this girl because she can climb trees and she bit a vulture’s neck this one time.”, I must have missed the cues.
This element to the story isn’t unforgivable. This is young adult fiction, after all. You expect some hormone crazed teen to fall in love with another hormone crazed teen somewhere down the line. And the description in the back of the book did mention a “bitter love triangle”. I saw it coming. But the way it was jammed into the storyline just doesn’t make sense. It completely interrupts the story instead of becoming a part of it. To make it more eye roll inducing, Victor and Konrad aren't really people I could see Elizabeth falling for. While Konrad is the more, well, mentally stable brother, he often acts like he's never met the progressive and adventurous Elizabeth before. He's constantly expecting her to faint and cry weakly for help at every turn of the story, so that he can protect her from every and any possible danger. It's condescension masked as chivalry. Victor, who to his credit at least gets that Elizabeth is no shrinking violet, is just not stable. He's controlling, possessive, and manipulative. Victor's "love" for her is unhealthy, as he views Elizabeth as another beautiful and powerful thing that he can't have and damn it he wants it. The least the author could have done was make one of the brothers a partner she could live with.
The bitter love triangle does help to show certain aspects of Victor’s character. His new obsession with Elizabeth does demonstrate the resentment he has for his twin brother. It also does a good job to show Victor’s desire for power, praise, and admiration to feed his ego. Maybe that was the whole point of it. Maybe I’d actually care if it weren’t so annoying.
By the end of it, I was left with the uneasy feeling that the series is going to continue into a scenario where the originally intelligent and tough Elizabeth turns into a sniveling twit over an abusive guy who is obsessed with her because apparently Switzerland is also short on young men to choose as partners.