Slight spoilers for the first two novellas, Imperfect and Broken, follow. I would like to thank the author again for providing me with a copy of Anew! This in no way affected my review, so what follows is my honest opinion on the last novel and series overall.
Only days seem to have passed since Ahuil showed up at Theodosia’s family manor as a footman named Anthony. If not being able to see him while she’s been trapped on the estate was bad, having him hover around her family’s elbows at every moment is far worse. Stolen glances and moments are all that Theo and Ahuil can manage under the strict and watchful gaze of her family. Loving the other is forbidden, and Theo doesn’t dare think what will happen if they are found out. With the arranged marriage that she was running from looming even larger on the horizon, Theo needs to rediscover her strength even when it seems that all is lost. It’s not just her happiness that she needs to save.
I was a little frustrated with Theodosia in this final novella of the series. In the previous one, I had praised her as a strong character who didn’t stagnate in her relationship with Ahuil. That didn’t carry through completely to this one. At the beginning, she is still someone who is watching out for her loved ones and acting in a way that was not necessarily standard for the times. Eventually, her actions catch up to her and she is trapped at the estate, unable to even walk the grounds, making it impossible for her to sneak away to visit her friends to see how they’re making out in their new lives. Granted, she didn’t stagnate in the relationship, because most of that had a secretive quality and moments didn’t happen very often in Anew. She did, however, stagnate in the way that she allowed herself to wallow in her self-misery.
I had a hard time believing that this girl who was so dang stubborn (enough that she literally ran away to a different world) became someone who meekly followed the desires of her parents. It’s framed in a way that she’s protecting her brothers and sisters who will also, in a different way, benefit from an arranged marriage. I would have believed that far more if the previous two novellas (and a lot of this one) didn’t focus on how Theo and her siblings didn’t get along. And not the normal sibling squabbling that happens, but cruel things that they would do or say to her. With the exception of Louisa, Theo seems to loathe her siblings, so I was confused as to why this seemed to suddenly become so important to her. You would think that causing a scene or refusing a betrothal would actually give some element of freedom to Theodosia.
Most of the novel focuses on the family and societal drama that unfolds around Theo. It was interesting, but with Theo turning into someone unfamiliar, and less interactions with Ahuil and her friends, it was a little boring. I longed for the world they left behind and who she had been for most of the novella. Leaving the excitement of the fantasy world to focus on the world of England in the 1800s was a little like going from a fantasy movie to a soap opera. Things developed a less serious quality to them and didn’t have much of a drive. Unfortunately, this meant that the plot became predictable in its run to the end.
Ultimately, I’d recommend this series for those who like a mix of fantasy and historical genres. I loved that the focus overall wasn’t on the romantic relationship between two characters but instead focused on how the characters interacted with the world around them. There is good world building with strongly written characters. Although I did love the series, the final novella fell a little lower in its rating than the other two.