This story is split into four perspectives.
Daughter of the Duke & thus protected from the consequences of her "outsider" lineage, she is her father's most trusted blade.
A young man whose father leads a gypsy-like vigilante group that primarily fight to give back to the poor farmers of the land, for a price of course.
A young Mother-in-Guidance & steadfast Stargazer, she belongs to a religious group who worship the goddess of the stars, Ytoile, and condemn the daylight as the time of the sun demon.
Next in line for the Hanaobi throne, he fears he does not live up to the legacy father and older brother left behind neither in his own eyes nor in his mother's eyes.
My absolute favorite part of this book is the religion of the Stargazers. They're a bit like nuns, primarily occupying a tower & consisting of women & children. They worship the goddess of the night & consider the sun to be the enemy of their deity. They cite the sunburns on their pale skin as evidence of the sun demon's malevolence.
I just love religious, cult-like themes in novels if they are well-written. I think they add an interesting dynamic & characterization potential, and McNulty crafts her characters seamlessly around this particular aspect of the novel.
When you're dealing with dialogue, there are a lot of things to consider. Personality, regional slang, and making sure each character has a distinct & believable presence that doesn't contradict your previous characterization. The dialogue in this novel also was a high point for me, as I felt it was quite realistic & differential between the characters.
My major criticism boils down to the fact that I really struggled to follow why certain events unfolded, primarily in the second half of the book. I feel like on both a large & small scale, the important bridges between plot points were entirely forgotten or skipped over.
I had particular trouble picturing the sequence of the climax, but not necessarily due to the writing. The writing was clear in its description, but it read as though I was blacking out while it was happening. I latched onto a train of thought only to have the story switch gears again it what didn't always feel like a logical turn of events.
Characters were popping up here & there, moving around to different locations, teaming up & betraying one another, revealing snatches of their individual motives, but it all sort of came off as a jumble.
Relationship development was a bit on the choppy side, and it caused me to feel somewhat detached. The story also suffered from using First Person POV for all 4 characters. Third Person at least some of the time would've helped fill in those gaps, I feel.
Overall, I appreciate the darker themes, as I think Young Adult literature tends to stay on the safer side when it comes to certain topics. There is definitely an interesting premise here, however, I think the book could benefit from taking more time to fill out its story & tightening its focus.