Book Review: “Court of Fives” by Kate Elliott. Teen Fantasy.
My new favorite trend is high-fantasy authors tackling YA. Mercedes Lackey dazzled me with her Hunter series, and now Kate Elliott has done the same with “Court of Fives.” High fantasy usually requires more expansive world building, back history, and longevity. These authors are so proficient at tackling these elements on a large scale that their YAs seems so much more robust than competitive titles. On the flipside, though, YAs tends to require faster pacing and a more prominent love story — something which Elliott tackled expertly in Court of Fives.
All the basic elements were there to make “Court of Fives” an awesome fantasy, and on top of that it also had my favorite story component: competition! I’ve read at least half a dozen novels that gave promise of a competition only to completely glaze over it. Finally in “Court of Fives,” the promise of a competition was delivered on! It was like reading about “American Ninja Warrior” for teens — oodles of fun and easily my favorite part of the story.
“Court of Fives” was one of those books that seemed to get better with each chapter … at least until the halfway point. Then it took a direction I wasn’t totally on board with (but was still interesting). And actually, I was a good way into the main conflict of the story before realizing the author was going to stick with that trajectory for the remainder of the book. I still devoured it but kept itching to get back to the competition stuff.
The book also had an interesting love story. In a market famous for insta-loves, “Court of Fives” offered a relationship that felt incredibly organic and natural. My only objection is that I think Elliott could have extended the romantic tension a bit longer. Other relationships in the novel were equally strong and compelling, mostly because the characters were so well developed.
Overall, “Court of Fives” was one of the better young adult books I’ve read to date. Not to mention the ending was so powerful and evoking that now I’m scrambling to get a hold of the next one.