Today I bring you this review/comment on The Bargainer series by Laura Thalassa.
Let me tell you that when I bought them I was soo excited to read them. Like, a siren who has many debts with the Bargainer, this mysterious guy who now comes to collect after seven years because he is trying to solve a weird mystery? I’m in.
And it started all right but then we went downhill. But, don’t get me wrong. The ratings on Goodreads are very good and usually that is a good guide for what I might enjoy. But this one didn’t work for me.
I’m going to be leaving mini reviews for each book (as they are on my Goodreads) and at the end of the post I’ll make some general comments.
Short comment: there seems to be some kind of discussion on Goodreads about this book, specially the first one but maybe the whole series. I just knew about it because I don’t tend to read many reviews on Goodreads when I don’t want to. Anyway, some people say this is safe, others apparently don’t share that view. What I will say is that I consider there is mention of sexual harrassment in an educational enviroment, sexual abuse in family dynamic and rape references.
Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.
Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want… at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.
But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.
For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.
If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.
This book was a…surprise. I didn’t expect to like it so much. This book is set in our world, but has many fantasy creatures, like faes, werewolves, and sirens. There is this “other” world, a fae world, but we don’t get to see it in this book. Callie being a siren was one of the things I really liked because I don’t tend to read books with sirens on them, less alone that the protagonist is one. She was a character that grows throughout the book but there still is so much room to grow and I think that is what she is going to do in the next books. She felt very human, very real.
The Bargainer is this character that we get to know piece by piece and slowly through the pages. He has this bad guy vibes because he is a bad guy but of course with Callie is not so simple.
Other character that I really want to know more of is Temper, Callie’s best friend. The author mentions her and her powers but we don’t really get to see her or what she does.
The story has two main lines, the romance (of course) which may be predictable but still manages to be fun and entertaining and this investigation that allows us to know more about the Fae world (Otherworld), its twist and politics. It’s super easy to read and the pacing was great as it keeps you reading and wanting to know more.
This felt similar in some things to A Court of Thorns and Roses (more specifically to A Court of Mist and Fury) series, and I think that if you enjoyed Maas’s series I think you might enjoy this one as well!
Siren and soulmate to the King of Night, Callypso Lillis survived the clutches of Karnon, the mad king, and his twisted prison. But the nightmare isn’t over. Callie wears the physical reminders of her time as a captive, and mounting evidence suggests the Thief of Souls is still out there.
When a fae celebration thrusts Callie and her mate, Desmond Flynn, into the Kingdom of Flora, they take their investigation with them. But under the bright lights and striking blooms of the realm, they find there are more immediate issues to deal with. No place is more uniquely savage than the great fae halls, and no amount of bargains can save Callie from royal intrigues.
Fairies play dangerous games. Some want love, some want vengeance, some want flesh, and some want things too unspeakable to utter. One thing is for sure: no one is who they appear to be. Not even Des, who only grows more enigmatic with every passing secret.
But the Kingdom of Flora has its own secrets, from bleeding trees to branded slaves and missing guards. Something is stirring in the land of all that grows, and if Callie isn’t careful, it will claim everything and everyone she loves—and her along with it.
This one was disappointing but at the same time not? In general, I liked how the story continued. It was great to finally know more about the Otherworld, meet other Queens and Kings and to see the characters acting not considering only their personal interests.
My problem with this one was the relationship between Des and Callie. The communication between them was non-existant. I understand that Des has been alone for centuries and is full of secrets and blah blah blah but healthy and good relationships need communication. Des can do anything except talking, communicating, letting Callie in. Callie always has to ask, sometimes almost begging it. That doesn’t sit well with me, the power dynamys are all off balance, it feels like they aren’t equals and once I saw/felt it, I just couldn’t un-see/feel it.
I know that at least 50% of the story presented in these books is about the romance (at least that is how it was in the first book) but this was the perfect opportunity to introduce more political plots, as they are in the Otherworld. For me it was a disappointment because I felt like this plot line had potential, yet the author preferred the romance and that is what was mainly developed or focused.
For the next book I would like to see Callie being more confident and demanding what she needs from her partner. I’m also starting to feel like the political plot will be in debt with these books, prioritizing the romance and forgetting about other lines.
It is also interesting to think if this is a “dragged” story. It feels like the same conflict is throughout the series, which is exhausting. Maybe the story could have been done in less books. Still, the romance makes this feel fast paced and easy to read. I feel like this book had potential and was not exploited. I’m intrigued to read Des’s book next.
In the beginning, there was darkness.
Before he met Callie, before he became the Bargainer, there was Desmond Flynn, the bastard son of a scribe. A boy born to a weak mother, cursed with little magic, and destined to marry a slave.
But fate had something else in mind.
Till darkness dies.
From the barren caves of Arestys to the palace of Somnia to the streets of earth, this is how Desmond Flynn, a fairy who began with nothing, became the Emperor of Evening Stars.
I’m happy that this book is book 2.5 in the series and not 3.5 because otherwise I think I would have lost interest and read it just because. Other thing that I liked was that the last five pages felt like a bridge and a good introduction to book 3.
I enjoyed reading Des’s perspective (especially on the past he shares with Callie and how he viewed/thought of the things happening, as we got Callie’s perspective on previous books) and getting to know him more. However, the new information that this book gave me as a reader, about the characters or the world was almost none. The things that happened in this book had already been told in previous books, even those that were solely Des past (you know how I claimed for him to tell us more about himself, his past and be less secretive? Well, the three things that he tells us in previous books are the ones that the author wrote about). This made me feel like there was no more to Des than those three defining moments in his life. Made me think like the author couldn’t deepen his character, making him seem flat.
The ending left me wanting to finish the series.
There are worse things than death. Things that lurk in the shadows and slip into your dreams. Things that have no business existing. Things that once slept … but have now awoken.
For Callypso Lillis, the fae magic that now runs through her veins is equal parts curse and good fortune. For the very thing that bonds her to Desmond Flynn, the King of the Night, also makes her vulnerable to the Thief of Souls, a man who wants to break the world … and Callie along with it.
But it’s not just the Thief whose shadow looms over the Otherworld. Des’s father is back from the dead, and he wants revenge on the son who sent him to the grave in the first place.
Des and Callie must figure out how to stop both men, and time is running out. Because there are forces at play working to tear the lovers apart once and for all … and unfortunately for them, death is no longer the worst thing to fear.
This went downhill for me.
I still insist that these books are easy, quick reads, no difficulties to read and the writing isn’t remarkably good or bad.
This time it was a clear feeling for me that the story was dragged, and could have been developed in other way that prevented that from happening. There were scenes that repeated themselves. Then, throughout the book, Callie would find a clue and magically understand something but what she didn’t realize is that the clue had been 100 pages before and that she had thought “mh, maybe I should think about that” but then she never did. I know this sounds weird putting it like that but it was like this: someone said x thing on page 100, and that character gave the clue to the reader to solve or understand some part of the story. Then, on page 200, Callie figured out that lead and presented it to the reader as if she was a genious solving the mystery. I was annoyed because it wasn’t necessary. Why did the author thought necessary to re-solve things when she had already given the hints or leads so the reader could figure it out? I was just, ugh.
Maybe this isn’t a good explanation, but I can’t find other way to explain it.
The problem I highlighted of Des and Callie’s relationship and their communication is still there. Their discussions being solved with sex or a gift was just unnerving, and they didn’t work out the root of the problem.
I had expected to love this and ended up disappointed. This just didn’t work for me.
My overall thoughts:
- If we do some math, my average rating is 3.125/5⭐ and my gut feeling makes me want to give it between 2.75/5⭐ or 3/5 ⭐.
- Maybe I had many and too high expectations and if I hadn’t, I would have enjoyed it more.
- I feel like this one has some similarities to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series so I think if you enjoyed one, you will enjoy the other. The Bargainer series has more explicit sex scenes so that the “aimed age” might be older than ACOTAR, maybe keep that in mind if you want to read either of them.
- As you may have perceived through my ratings, the start for me was strong, and the best book of the series. Then I just enjoyed less and less, reflecting it on lower ratings with each book.
- Things I noticed plotwise:
- At the beginning there were two plot lines, one romantic and one politic. The politics were sacrificed for the romance and I felt like it was a missed opportunity. These stories could have been so much insteresting if the politics were added to the mix!
- One of my main problems was the relationship between Des and Callie, their lack of communication and how the power dynamics were off.
- The same story could have been told as a duology and it wouldn’t have felt dragged.
- These opinions here seem to be on the “unpopular” side so, let me remind you that 1) these are just my thoughts and feelings 2) these have quite a high rating on goodreads, maybe you take that in consideration.
And that is all I have been wanting to say about this series!
This ended up being a long post but I have enjoyed writing it!
Have you read this series? Do you agree with me on some points? Or maybe you absolutely disagree? I would love to know!
Thank you for reading!