All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman is a story of monsters and magic. The families of Ilvernath have had a dark secret: The curse of the Blood Veil. That secret has been thrown out into the open, and 7 teenagers are left to fight.
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.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
“Monsters couldn’t harm you if you were a monster too.”
Advertised as the Hunger Games but with magic, this book truly caught my intrigue. As someone who adored the Hunger Games, and genuinely still does, I thought a dark fantasy twist to this would be interesting. After reading this I can honestly say, I was not wrong. This story took me by the throat and kept me there from the first few chapters on.
Each of our characters has interesting backstories and compelling motivations. There is, however, a clear developmental difference between them. This book focuses primarily on four of the seven families, each of them getting a point of view. We have Alistair Lowe, a descendant of the perpetual winners of this tournament. After he finds out how they win, however, he’s less keen on being the monster they’ve raised him to be. Then we have Isobel Macaslan, who wasn’t even supposed to be a champion, to begin with. She is the one the press has an eye on, marking them as the potential competition for the Lowes. Her former best friend, Briony Thorburn, has been preparing to be the new champion her whole life- and she will kill to get there. And Gavin Grieve, a mistake on earth if anyone ever asked about them, ready to literally risk his life to win.
“There are no friends here. Only people you kill now, and people you kill later.”
While Gavin and Briony both have points of view in this book, I found myself primarily focusing on Isobel and Alistair. From the beginning, there is a romantic tension that’s palpable, and the way this develops was truly intriguing to me. I won’t spoil anything, but they’re the ones to watch. Briony and Gavin fell a bit flat for me, their stories were not as compelling. Gavin almost feels written like an afterthought, and Briony oscillated between being very annoying and very heroic.
The entire world was written in a fast-paced, you better keep up, kind of way. There were moments where I felt lost, but I always managed to keep up. The writing here shows itself as really solid by allowing the readers to come to conclusions, but not keeping us too in the dark about how the magic systems work. However, the ending came too fast, and I felt it was jarring. It was almost as though our authors decided at 75% in to make this a multi-book series, and not a standalone.
“I can’t teach you how to be wicked.”
Despite a rushed, cliffhanger-style ending, I adored almost everything about this book. From the writing to the characters, and the magic system, there really is something for everyone here. I had very high expectations, and I wasn’t disappointed. If you love good enemies to lovers, wickedness, and Hunger Games, this may be the book for you to read next.
“She made a far better villain than he did.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.