Synopsis:

The blockbuster co-writing debut of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, All of Us Villains begins a dark tale of ambition and magick…

You Fell In Love With The Victors of The Hunger Games.

Now Prepare To Meet The Villains of The Blood Veil.

After the publication of a salacious tell-all book, the remote city of Ilvernath is thrust into worldwide spotlight. Tourists, protesters, and reporters flock to its spellshops and ruins to witness an ancient curse unfold: every generation, seven families name a champion among them to compete in a tournament to the death. The winner awards their family exclusive control over the city’s high magick supply, the most powerful resource in the world.

In the past, the villainous Lowes have won nearly every tournament, and their champion is prepared to continue his family’s reign. But this year, thanks to the influence of their newfound notoriety, each of the champions has a means to win. Or better yet–a chance to rewrite their story.

But this is a story that must be penned in blood.

Review:

Thank you so much to Orion Publishing Group, Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for an e-copy of this book. The opinions below are my own. 

I personally couldn’t pass up reading a book dedicated to villains, so I requested this book straightaway on NetGalley. This story is pitched as the queer version of The Hunger Games, in which seven families have to send their respective champion to fight in a brutal tournament. Only one champion will survive this tournament and access high magick. The remaining champions are destined to be killed, and die in this cursed endless tournament in the remote city of Ilvernath.

The tournament structure and the magic world are described through the eyes and experience of four champions and the first part of the book is completely dedicated to that. I think this was the best part of the book, you get to understand the motivation for each champion to join this cruel and gruesome fight, and you also get a better understanding of the most, and less, influential families involved. I appreciated how the writers give the reader the time to see these dysfunctional families without jumping straight into the battle. 

However, once the tournament started, I stopped being too involved in the story. The plot had a shift in narrative and the actual tournament became slightly repetitive, with a succession of alliances, no alliances, alliances, no, maybe no alliances. My favourite character was Alistair, he was the best champion of this story and had the potential to be a great villain/fictional boyfriend. Problem is, he was not really a villain. In general none of the characters demonstrated real “villain” behaviour. It was more smoke than fire, in the sense that they don’t actually do mean stuff, there are not King-Joffrey-kind-of-actions. 

Prior to the big fight, there were a few characters that were introduced and I had a feeling they also had a relevant part in the story, which were set aside during the tournament. I guess it’s the limitation of using four POV’s, you don’t get the full picture of what is going on. Probably I would need to read the sequel to see where the story will go, but unfortunately, when I arrived at the end of the book, I knew I wasn’t going to pick up the sequel. 

It definitely has good stuff in it. I loved that the story takes place in the modern age and that the champions have to deal with reporters, news and so on. The magic system is very easy to grasp, with spells and curses connected to rings and crystals.  As I mentioned above, the problem was that these villains didn’t feel very villain-like, and the queer representation was just hinted at, with the main romance being m/f. 

Probably I had very high expectations about this story, and I wanted more from these characters, I wanted more from Alistair Lowe. The first part got me super tense and excited, but the execution of the tournament part was underwhelming and repetitive. Instead of giving me thirst for the sequel, the ending was confusing and not teasing me enough to feel I want to know where it goes. And like I always say, I have a weird taste and I’m quite difficult, so what didn’t work for me, I am sure will work for another reader. If you like magic battles and complex, messed-up families you should really give it a chance.