The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins.
Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death.
The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.
This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.
But this is a story that must be penned in blood.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
For a book called All of Us Villains, I expected, well, villains. What I got was a book of insecure teenagers refusing to even entertain the idea of murder thrust into murder competition.
I’ll start with the few things I did enjoy. I thought the worldbuilding was well done. All of Us Villains is set in the modern-day, in a small town where once a generation, seven families each chose a champion to participate in a fight to the death to gain control of the town’s cherished magic supply. With this coming tournament, an expose has been published nationwide that’s exposed the secrets of this town to the world, and now the paparazzi and media have gotten involved. The tournament itself has a whole host of magical laws governing the inner workings that we slowly learn about and the magic itself I found really creative and well-written.
I’ve seen this book often compared to The Hunger Games series. In my opinion, that’s a poor comparison. At least the Hunger Games kids had enough of a spine to try and kill their competition. Granted, some of these characters were blindsided by the choice to participate in the Murder Death Kill Games (not the actual name) but a handful of them have known they’d be their family’s champion for years! And yet, the only times any murder actually occurs, it occurs out of self-defense and the defender still got criticized by the group. Where’s the bloodthirsty murder? Where’s the cut-throat betrayal and backstabbing?? Where are the villains???? With multiple characters basically assigned the ‘villain’ role at the beginning of the book, labeled ‘dark’ and ‘evil’, man does that not translate to their actions.
I have a love-hate relationship with the characters (see complaints above). On one hand, for a cast of 7, the four main characters the book focuses on are quite well written. There’s Alistar, the one labeled a ‘monster’, Gavin, who was never meant the last more than the night, Isobel, reluctantly thrust into the spotlight by her family, and Briony, the golden hero. All four characters have very complex relationships with their families and with their goals for the tournament. However, again, the lack of commitment from these characters to actually do anything in this tournament was just extremely frustrating to read. There’s also this bizarre instalove romance arc between two characters that just felt so so forced, like the authors came up with the characters knowing they’d be together but never set up the foundations.
Finally, the pacing of this book felt weirdly off. It takes 40% for the characters to actually enter the tournament. Then the next 40% I could not tell you what occurred, but it was nothing to really advance the plot. Briony comes in the tournament thinking she’s got a plan to End It All^TM, but then doesn’t do anything about it til 80% in. Which is when the action actually starts to occur and suddenly there are reveals left and right and now everything has changed. I definitely think the first 40% could have been cut and the last 20% expanded to let the story breath more.
Overall, I rate this book a 2.5/5. The title told me we’d get villains and I got depressed teenagers instead.
r/Fantasy 2021-22 Bingo Squares:
- Mystery Plot
- Revenge-Seeking Character
- Published in 2021