I, personally, am not a big fan of fantasy retellings since it is very hard to do them well. So, I was a little trepidatious to begin reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised and definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys a villain origin story!
The biggest praise I have for this book is how it was fast-paced without seeming to be fast-paced. Too many books today are too focussed on action for the sake of action. (I am referring to Snow Like Ash, here.)
It is very easy as a writer to just throw a character curveball after curveball after curveball – it takes talent to make those curveballs subtle enough to not be immediately obvious to the reader. A silent action build, if you will.
The romance that was present in the book was not forced. And, I think, what made it seem that way was because the romance had already been established between the two characters before the story begins. Which helped ease the pain of awkward teen romance!