Author: Lori M/ Lee
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone, #1
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley**
Kai lives in the East Quarter of Ninurta, known for its meandering streets and poor population. Kai’s brother, Reev, is the only family she’s ever known, having found her abandoned by a river when she was young. Kai has no clues to her past, only a strange ability to slow time, an ability her brother has warned her about using. When Reev suddenly disappears, Kai fears the worst. Ninurtans have been disappearing for years and there are whispers that the mysterious Black Rider is responsible. Determined to find her brother, Kai sets off beyond the city, into the Outlands, with her friend Avan, to seek out the enigmatic Black Rider.
Lori M. Lee’s Gates of Thread and Stone was not as enjoyable as I’d hoped. As far as characterization goes, Kai had a number of flaws as well as strengths, which is just how I like my protagonists. Her love for her brother drove her forward, but I never understood whether her naivety was on purpose or not. She sets off on her own with the intention of finding her brother with no actual plan in place besides confronting an unsavory character. Without her friend Avan and the help of a nameless woman, I don’t think she would have known what to do. She also tended to idolized her brother Reev and her friend Avan. Reev is Kai’s safe place, a self-sacrificing hero in her eyes. Avan is protective of Kai, willing to do anything to help her, and she predictably spends an awful lot of time dwelling on how attractive he is. Unfortunately for both of these characters, Kai’s blind adoration never allowed either to be more than one-dimensional, even with their colorful pasts.
For a story that boasts of a protagonist who can manipulate time, there isn’t much manipulation. Kai’s powers are never really explored and this is really unfortunate as I found this part of the book to be the most interesting. Much of the story’s lore was confusing and because the protagonist herself was ignorant, many of the story’s revelations lacked the proper build-up. While I was reading Gates of Thread and Stone, it occurred to me that the book was never going to earn more than two stars from me and unfortunately, the more I read, the more flaws I began to notice. The anti-climatic ending was patched up hastily and key characters just materialize out of nowhere.