Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim – Book Details
TITLE – Last of the Talons
SERIES – Talon, book #1
AUTHOR – Sophie Kim
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2022
PAGE COUNT – 416
MY RATING – 3.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 3.95 of 5
What It Is About
I am a skilled fighter. Quick and agile. A weapon honed by Yunho himself and deadlier than any of the Talons combined. And yet there is no way I can kill the Dokkaebi in front of me. But I can try.
Shin Lina – the Reaper of Sunpo – used to belong to the Talon gang, which was like a family to her. But a ruthless crime lord killed all the other members and forced her to work for him by threatening her with the life of her little sister.
Now her new master has ordered her to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple. But the tapestry is valuable to a legendary immortal, Haneul Rui, who is not pleased at all with what Lina has done.
Dragged to a dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, Lina must find a way to get back to her world and protect her sister from her new gang’s vengeful wraith. But there’s only one way she can get her life back – she needs to kill Rui first.
Themes and vibes:
- YA fantasy with a romance subplot
- Korean mythology inspired
- a Pied Piper retelling
- teen assassin MC
- enemies to lovers
Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim – My Review
The Reaper of Sunpo does not fall. Death does not die, and neither will you, Shin Lina.
Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim is the beginning of a new Korean mythology-inspired fantasy series I was lucky enough to get an audio arc for.
I didn’t have much luck with my fantasy reads lately, especially if we don’t count the authors I already knew and loved. But, you never know when you are going to stumble upon your next favorite fantasy series. And we all know how satisfying those rare finds are, so I’m not giving up. Patiently kissing my frogs here.
This one… It was a mixed bag for me. Certain things I really liked, but there were several instances that needed some heavy editing.
To keep this review… not too long, I’ll just quickly go through a list of things I didn’t like about Last of the Talons, followed by some points I actually really enjoyed.
What follows contains minor spoilers. I personally wouldn’t even consider them spoilers, but I know some of you prefer to know nothing, so I guess you decide if you want to continue reading this review or not.
Things I Didn’t Like About Last of the Talons
- The first thing I disliked was a plot trigger that just didn’t seem convincible at all. It was obviously there to make things moving because the author wanted to get the characters into a certain confronting position, but I guess she couldn’t do it in a way that would make more sense. I’m talking, of course, about the whole ‘I’m bored, so try and kill me’ ordeal. I don’t know how bored emperors usually are. But this made Haneul Rui seem so ridiculously bored with his life, I couldn’t see why I should care about him.
- They did this thing that I often encounter in debuts, where the MC tends to get cocky in situations when no even semi reasonable people would dare lift their heads. That, and some other reactions that felt – not genuine. Inappropriate for the current scene.
- Another pet peeve of mine that drives me up the wall (and it’s pretty common in YA) is when the heroine is being “held captive” in a palace, having all the luxuries and with no one harming her in any way. This poor, poor thing is then being punished by being forced to go to a ball. It makes me wonder had these authors ever had even a bad day in their lives. Even if they haven’t, they can at least try and google ‘torture’; that should set some things straight.
- The Dokkaebi world was beautiful, but not much of it was fleshed out. There was so little about politics or the classes. I did like mythology, and we got a bit of history, but only a bit. We also got a revolution that was, to be honest, ridiculous. So yep. Pretty fountains and squares and hills. But that was about it.
- One last thing I really, really didn’t like was that a major confrontation was resolved on the magic-solves-it-all principle. As if, if they just find themselves under enough pressure, people suddenly start to get magical powers. No working for it. No striving to wield it. No learning to control it. Nope. Just this perfect moment when everything suddenly works, and hooray, they win.
Things I Liked About Last of the Talons
Luckily, combined with the things I already mentioned, there were quite a few things that made this read worthwhile for me. In no particular order:
- The whole gang thing at the beginning of the book, thieves and assassins, the found family aspect we got through retrospections… It reminded me a bit of the famous heist stories we all know and love. I’m not gonna say specifically which ones because Last of the Talons wasn’t exactly in their league and I don’t want to get your hopes up too high. Still. It gave me the vibes and got me excited for the rest of the story.
- Although I didn’t like the reason she was trying to kill him (that the guy was just bored), I did like the idea of a trained mortal assassin trying to kill someone who is immortal. I think the concept was great and I wish it got even more developed in the book. But still. I liked it.
- The romance – ok, this one could go on either list, as it did have its weird moments. But I don’t know. I liked them. I thought they were cute. But my final opinion will depend on where they go next.
- Though as I already mentioned I missed more of the ins and outs of the Dokkaebi realm, it was no doubt very beautiful. Totally made me wanna live there. And I really, really liked their mythology/religion.
- Last of the Talons did create a nice starting point for where I hope the series will go next. And honestly, I’m quite excited for it. The mystery of certain magical elements, the possibility of the ‘new’ Shin Lina going back to her old world, the romance that is just slowly starting to bloom… Maybe I wasn’t a hundred percent happy with the first installment, but it sure got me interested in seeing where the story will go next.
- In the end, despite my list of things I didn’t like, I just want to say I was really impressed with this being Sophie Kim’s debut novel. Fantasy is not an easy genre to nail, but she got so many things just right. If this is her early work (and I read somewhere the author is still at university), I can’t even imagine the things we can expect from her in the future. I for sure will be more than willing to give her future books a chance.
If you want to check out Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim, it came out this September, and the sequel, Wrath of the Talon, is supposed to be released in June 2023.