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It was a bit of a slow start for me too but I ended up loving it as well. :) I liked the multiple viewpoints and thought they were written skillfully - it seemed like I could always tell who we had switched to within a sentence or two. I interpreted Irina and the tsar's romance the same way; basically he saw her as beautiful because she was the first person to ever do anything kind for him. Glad that you enjoyed this one as well! :)
I had built up some (IMO) much more exciting twists based on some of the suspects/motives presented. I'd actually guessed the real twist early on but discarded it for something more exciting, so when it got to the Big Twist it was kind of a sense of "Oh, was that all?"
I wanted to love this based on all the rave reviews and buzz about this book, but it just... fell flat for me. This was my first BOTM pick that I didn't at least somewhat enjoy. Did anyone else have the same experience? Am I somehow missing the brilliance of this book?
I'm really confused as to why everyone loves this book so much too! Like the top 20-30 reviews on Goodreads are all super positive but I just thought it was... meh. The first half dragged and things got a little more interesting in the second half, but there were some unanswered questions and some dumb things - like throwing in the cat-sitting for just one "scary" scene. I also wasn't really surprised by any of the twists... I've never read Stephen King but I see a lot was "borrowed" from him in this book too. Just don't understand so many and such positive reviews for this!
I think we were supposed to get that Nicky carved the wings and drew the chalk men in the church after PC Thomas and his friends beat the reverend... but I agree that it was pretty confusing, and maybe kind of out of character for Nicky. I am confused about who drew the drowning chalk man in Ed's driveway after Sean drowned... were we supposed to think it was Ed while he was sleep walking/lucid dreaming?