ARC Review: Painted Devils by Margaret Owen

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on May 8, 2023 | 1 Comment

ARC Review: Painted Devils by Margaret OwenPainted Devils by Margaret Owen
Series: Little Thieves #2
Published by Henry Holt & Co (5.16.2023)
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 512 pages
Source: NetGalley

4 Stars

Let’s get one thing straight—Vanja Schmidt wasn’t trying to start a cult.

After taking down a corrupt margrave, breaking a deadly curse, and finding romance with the vexingly scrupulous Junior Prefect Emeric Conrad, Vanja had one great mystery left: her long-lost birth family… and if they would welcome a thief. But in her search for an honest trade, she hit trouble and invented a god, the Scarlet Maiden, to scam her way out. Now, that lie is growing out of control—especially when Emeric arrives to investigate, and the Scarlet Maiden manifests to claim him as a virgin sacrifice.

For his final test to become a prefect, Emeric must determine if Vanja is guilty of serious fraud, or if the Scarlet Maiden—and her claim to him—are genuine. Meanwhile, Vanja is chasing an alternative sacrifice that may be their way out. The hunt leads her not only into the lairs of monsters and the paths of gods, but the ties of her past. And with what should be the simplest way to save Emeric hanging over their heads, he and Vanja must face a more dangerous question: Is there a future for a thief and a prefect, and at what price?

My thoughts

I didn’t love this book quite as much as I loved the first book. It had a little bit of Second Book Syndrome going on, to be honest (I’m hoping book 3 will make up for it). It started off strong – lots of action and hijinks, Vanja being her amoral incorrigible self, and the humor and sarcastic banter that I loved so much about the first book. But at the 50% mark it started dragging, and my attention waned. It was a bit slow from about 50-75% through, until it finally picked up again View Spoiler ».

I loved the introduction of new characters – namely Brunne and Ambroszia – but it was a bit overwhelming. I honestly couldn’t tell the brothers apart and they were all the same to me. I did like Helga, though! View Spoiler »

“I want you to remember that, as long as you’ll have me, I will choose you every time.”

I thought Vanja was an idiot in this book. Look, I get why she ran away in the beginning. She has trust and abandonment issues for obvious reasons. But after everything, you’d think she’d realize that Emeric wasn’t going to abandon her and that he truly cared about her. The fact that she constantly expected him to spurn her drove me bonkers! He was never anything but caring, gentle, and understanding. And yet she STILL assumed the worst in every single situation (always a simple misunderstanding that communication could fix) and STILL didn’t trust him. She was so dead set on sabotaging her own happiness, and there were quite a few times I wanted to throttle the shit out of her! View Spoiler »

THAT ENDING?! Umm what? View Spoiler » I don’t know why, but I thought this series was a duology for some dumb reason, so imagine my surprise when it ended in a cliffhanger. When I clicked to the next page and there was nothing I legit yelled “WHAT!” because helloooo I’m missing the rest of my copy thank you very much.

P.S. Brownie points for the casual Backstreet Boys reference in Emeric’s poetry!

Fave quotes

(These are from the eARC and may not be correct in the final edition)

You know that feeling? The one where your entire brain melts out through your earholes because your head is on fire, and the rest of your body overcompensates by freezing on the spot, and the only thing left in your skull is a ghost marching in a circle and banging two pots together? That’s about where I’m at.

Internally, of course, the ghost in my skull has ditched the two pots and opted instead for the goat scream.

*Emeric draws buttocks on the message mirror*
“Figured I’d get it out of the way,” Emeric says mock-innocently.
I gaze up at him with pure adoration. “You complete me.”

Overall Assessment

Plot: 4/5
Premise: 5/5
Writing style: 4.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World-building: 5/5
Pace: 3/5
Feels: 3.5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5

Jessi (Geo)

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