Lori M Lee – Gates of Thread and Stone

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In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

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 shecame from. All that matters is that she and Reev 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 Reev 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 Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

I actually got the sequel to this book, The Infinite, on Netgalley because the cover was so stunning. But then I realized that I’d need to read the first book to understand what was happening in the second so I went back to read this, and suffice it to say I really like where the author is going with this series! There are some really cool things that are happening in this, but there are also some qualms I have with it.

First of all, Kai’s power of manipulating time seems pretty cool at first. However, as the story progresses, I honestly don’t see Kai doing much with the power. She slows down time. One time time went backward. And that’s… pretty much the extent of her powers! Wow.
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I like how Kai is searching for her brother Reev. But at the same time, I dislike how clingy she is on him. Reev has been looking after Kai for as long as she’s remembered, but you would think that she would have enough street smarts to consider the risks of sacrificing everything she has to find one person. Even if it’s her family member.
“Sure, I could take care of myself; but Reev had always, always, been there. How was I supposed to do this without him?”
But hey! Whatever floats her boat; yay for loyal characters.

Thoughts about the world building:
Ninurta, the city where the characters live, has gates that protect the citizens from the Outlands and other unknown territories. The conditions of the Outlands are like a desert, so pretty much impossible to live in. They’re littered with creatures called gargoyles, which are lizard-like mutations that don’t do much in the book. Gargoyles are mentioned a little (and characters even meet them!), but I really hope they are more elaborated on in the coming books. I have a feeling they’re going to be important later on…
Okay so digressing a little bit, having walls surrounding a city really reminds me of Attack on Titan. In this anime, a wall is built around the city protecting the people from titans, which eat human beings (and no one knows where they came from). So it was pretty easy to imagine a city with walls surrounding it. Check it:
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(I’d have to say, titans are way more dangerous than the gargoyles in the book though.)
The characters are led to believe that theirs is the only human city left in the area due to an event called Rebirth.
“Rebirth had wiped out nearly all the mahjo, the magic users.”
So now the person who rules Nintura is a Kahl, supposedly the last of the line of people who could use magic. But come on, we all know that probably isn’t true.
As interested as I am in the world, I’m ready for more explaining on what Rebirth was and how gargoyles came to be in the next book. A lot of things seem underdeveloped, but it seems as if the reader is discovering these things along with Kai, so I’m ready for more explanations in the book numero dos.

Now we get to characters! As I mentioned before, Kai’s powers didn’t really interest me. Her loyalty was nice, and her determination really visible when she goes through a lot of stuff just to save Reev. A lot of other characters are introduced in the book. We have Avan, the love interest that insists on helping Kai find Reev even though they seem like passing acquaintances, Reev, who is pretty mysterious – the only thing we are certain about him is that he was kind enough to pick up Kai out of the streets and raise her, and passing characters that come and go. In Kai’s journey to finding Reev, she attracts both friends and foes, and at the end of the journey there’s a bunch of surprises that will leave you reeling.

As for the romance, I feel like it was also a bit underdeveloped. A lot of time was put into Kai blushing at Avan, thinking about his muscles, holding his hand, and thinking about him in general, but not a lot of action was seen to progress into an actual relationship.
“I leaned away, catching his wrist. His arm tensed. The muscles in his forearm stood out. The inside of his wrist felt smooth against my thumb. My hand looked so pale next to his.
Was I seriously olging his 
wrist?”
Yes, yes you were. Guess this is twu wuv.
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Avan sacrifices so much for Kai, but I honestly don’t understand why, considering they weren’t even that close. Friends, definitely, but certainly not anything beyond that. However, they are very much shippable still and I sincerely hope we get more down-time with these two in the next book.

There are a lot of things I would have liked to see more of in this book, (including but not limited to: gargoyles, character development, romance development, world building) but I’m definitely staying for the rest of the books to see where the series is heading! If you like fantasy with a good amount of plot twists and don’t mind having mysterious characters and powers for a good amount of the book, grab this one!

Rating: 3.5/5

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