ARC Review – A Power Unbound

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing A Power Unbound by Freya Marske. I don’t usually post on the weekends anymore, but I just finished this book yesterday and want to scream about it. So, you get an extra post. 🙂 I should probably wait until closer to the release date to review it, but I really, really cannot wait that long. Also, a word of warning… Do not expect my review or rating to be super objective. This is one of my favorite series, and I’ll mostly just be talking about all the reasons I LOVE it. Read on below to see what I thought of the finale.

A Power Unbound is the final entry in Freya Marske’s beloved, award-winning Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light.

Secrets! Magic! Enemies to. . .something more?

Jack Alston, Lord Hawthorn, would love a nice, safe, comfortable life. After the death of his twin sister, he thought he was done with magic for good. But with the threat of a dangerous ritual hanging over every magician in Britain, he’s drawn reluctantly back into that world.

Now Jack is living in a bizarre puzzle-box of a magical London townhouse, helping an unlikely group of friends track down the final piece of the Last Contract before their enemies can do the same. And to make matters worse, they need the help of writer and thief Alan Ross.

Cagey and argumentative, Alan is only in this for the money. The aristocratic Lord Hawthorn, with all his unearned power, is everything that Alan hates. And unfortunately, Alan happens to be everything that Jack wants in one gorgeous, infuriating package.

When a plot to seize unimaginable power comes to a head at Cheetham Hall―Jack’s ancestral family estate, a land so old and bound in oaths that it’s grown a personality as prickly as its owner―Jack, Alan and their allies will become entangled in a night of champagne, secrets, and bloody sacrifice . . . and the foundations of magic in Britain will be torn up by the roots before the end.

***Thank you to Tordotcom for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

Surprising no one, I absolutely ADORED this book. It was such a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy. The story had everything I’ve loved about this series so far, including a hunt for a magical item, prose that I couldn’t stop highlighting, magical houses and fascinating world-building, so much sexual tension, relatable, complex characters, and SCORCHING HOT SEX. Everything culminated in a massive showdown that literally changed everything for these characters and their world.

I was so happy that all of the series regulars were present in this book. The middle book of the trilogy left out the protagonists from the first novel, and I really did feel their absence despite loving the story and new characters. Everyone came together in this one, and it had the most wonderful found family vibe. I also liked that we got to see them all through the eyes of new POVs, Hawthorn and Alan. Hawthorn’s perspective on his past with Edwin was a particular treat because it really underscored just how much better Edwin’s life is with Robin in it. Importantly, the ensemble was balanced quite well. There was enough time spent with all of the characters to satisfy fans of each while also still feeling like this was the story of Hawthorn and Alan.

I’ll be honest. Despite loving the idea of the magic system in this series, I’ve always found it a bit nebulous and hard to wrap my head around. It had a lot of different parts, from the land magic to the cradle magic to the powerful artifacts of the last contract, and I never really understood how all the different pieces related to one another. I get it now. This book did a great job of showing how it all fit together and provided a lot of background on the history of magic in this world. I really want to go back and do a re-read now that I understand it better because I’m curious to see if things will make a different kind of sense.

We finally got to see who hurt Lord Hawthorn and turned him into the grumpy bi recluse we all hate to love. It was sad, y’all. Real sad. That’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to spoil his beautiful emotional journey. Just know this book made me love his character even more than I already did, which was a lot after A Restless Truth. I also want to point out that he met his match in Alan Ross. They were absolute fire together. There were so many levels to their relationship, but I loved how it played with power dynamics in a way that was safe and valued consent. It also provided a great vehicle for exploring class inequality. It definitely helped that Alan was a firecracker of a short king with a robust and kinky imagination that came in real handy in the bedroom.

There was only one thing that didn’t really work for me. There was a bombshell reveal about one character, and the rest of the characters got over it a bit too quickly. I had barely recovered from the shock of it all, and the characters and plot had moved on already. I get why they understood the character’s motivations and forgave the actions, but it just happened way too fast and seemed unrealistic with how that character was welcomed back with trust. Despite this hiccup, I loved the book and cannot bring myself to knock off any stars. So, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. If you haven’t already, go read this series!!!

5 thoughts on “ARC Review – A Power Unbound

  1. I really enjoyed the first book but the second one fell a bit flat for me. After reading your great review, I definitely think that I need to read this final volume. I would like to know how it all ends up and understanding the magic system better appeals too.

    • I can totally understand how the second book wouldn’t work for everyone. It was really different from the first one, but I still enjoyed it for what it was. This book felt more like the first one to me because it wasn’t nearly as insular as A Restless Truth.

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