The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman (Review)

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I received a free copy via edelweiss for review purposes.

First Impression: I’m not entirely sure what to rate this, so for now it’s remaining blank. I’ll have to have a long think about it. I’ve decided, when writing down some of my thoughts, that I actually really enjoyed this. I do think it was perhaps a bit too long, and that’s why it dragged a bit. A great contemporary though.

Review: The Cost of All Things has one thing different than our world, and that is hekame – magic. This hekame is used for all sorts of things: beauty touch ups, memory, friendship, talent, brains, gracefulness…but all these spells have consequences, some insubstantial, some huge and burdening. It’s these consequences, or ‘side-effects’ that the protagonists have to deal with. The Cost of All Things is very much a cautionary tale.

The Cost of All Things is very much a character driven novel, and I have a lot of thoughts on the characters. Firstly, Kay. Kay is best friends with Ari and Diana, and her spell has serious repercussions but is also unnecessarily cruel – something that Kay doesn’t realise until later. She continuously defends the spell (I don’t want to say what it is for fear of spoiling) and its consequences and it’s very morally ambiguous, bordering on disturbing. Not even bordering – it is disturbing. Nevertheless, she is a complex and interesting character that I enjoyed reading about. I think it was this sort of ‘but at least they’re still with me’ type of mentality that made Kay should an interesting protagonist. Secondly, there’s Ari who is deeply hurting after the death of her boyfriend Win, but her spell has unimaginable consequences and she ends up losing both things that mean the world to her (or supposedly, as we come to learn) and she cannot understand the decision she made. I really enjoyed Ari’s character development and it was one of the highlights of The Cost of All Things. Markos was not a character I particularly enjoyed (I rather disliked him, actually) but his interaction with both Win and Ari was interesting enough. Echo was a great addition to the story, and I loved the mystery she brought to it.

Overall, I think The Cost of All Things was a surprisingly engaging read that really adds something to the contemporary genre, but I think perhaps it was a hundred pages too long and that’s why it dragged a bit. But then I wonder if the characters would have suffered had it been shorter, so it’s a bit of a dilemma. A book that, personally, I would say it’s on par with We Were Liars (the book it’s compared to in the blurb.)

RATING: ★★★★☆

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