ARC Review: ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin

I received this book for free from HarperTeen. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin
All That Glows

Written by: Ryan Graudin
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: February 11th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 480
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
Also by this author: The Walled City, Wolf by Wolf

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.


This book promised me badass Faery guards, a bad-boy British prince, a battle against ancient evil, and a swoony romance. …Well, I’m still waiting for that book, because this is most definitely not that book.

Let’s break it down:

The Plot and Worldbuilding

The plot is mediocre, at best. Really, this book is a romance (and not a swoony one), that tries to add a little intrigue and tension by having Richard be the target of a very vague but apparently very threatening evil Faery. Except… I felt no tension in the plot. It took a long time to get any sort of information leading to an overarching plot-arc, and up to that point there were just random attacks on Richard. It was all over the place.

(Additionally, the ‘plot’ is all wrapped up via the longest Bwahaha-I’ve-won!-Now-let-me-tell-you-how-I-did-it! speech I’ve ever read. -_- Why is this still a thing?! The only place this is okay is in Scooby-Doo.)

The worldbuilding is basically nonexistent. It’s set in London. Faeries are a thing. Apparently they guard the royal family because the royals’ blood has magic in it or something. That’s… pretty much it. Oh, and the faeries are all girls. All of them. Apparently they come into being by… actually, I have no idea, because this question is literally answered by Emrys saying something like, (to Richard) “Well, do you remember being born?” O_o Apparently faeries just appear out of thin air… Okay!

The Characters

I found Emrys to be extremely boring. This is unfortunate, as she also narrates the book. -_- You’d think, for a skilled Faery guard who was alive during King Arthur’s time, who has lived for so long, she’d gain some kind of personality over the years. But apparently not. After having spent the entire book inside her head, the only things I remember her doing are: Protecting Richard from evil faeries (probably 10%), trying to resist her attraction to Richard (25%), and finally, pining after Richard and trying to decide whether to give up her Fae powers in order to be with him (60%). (I realize there’s 5% missing – that’s the last 5% of the book.)

Emrys struck me more as a lovesick teenager than any kind of cool faery guard (which is what I was expecting from the synopsis). Emrys’s personality and “youngness” is hand-waved away by saying that, in Faery-years, she’s apparently the human equivalent of a teenager, which… whatever. Experience is experience, and she’s lived through a LOT. She’s supposed to be one of the most powerful Faery guards, one of their most skilled fighters! I was not sold, at all.

As for Richard, I found him to be extremely boring, as well. He’s flat, uninteresting, and has very little personality — despite supposedly starting out as a partying bad-boy, and then becoming a regal, responsible king. In my opinion, neither of these aspects, nor the transition between them, were convincingly portrayed. Richard’s flat personality does not lend itself to a “bad-boy” or “troublemaker” vibe. He actually struck me as a (very boring) sweetheart most of the time, which was just weird, considering how Emrys (and everyone) acted like he was this notorious bad boy (the blurb’s words, not mine).

(Interesting note: Richard, as described in the official blurb, is both “Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy” and “sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure“. If that doesn’t tell you something about awkward characterization — that the synopsis couldn’t even make up its mind…?)

The Relationship

I was really hoping that the love story in this book would make up for something… But there was nothing about Emrys and Richard’s relationship that was remotely interesting or engaging. All I saw were vague, sweepingly romantic feelings that originated from… well, nowhere. Their relationship isn’t even based on anything concrete. The first time they meet, there’s this spark between them (you’d be right if you guessed that “spark” would be important later!), and they end up falling for each other. But don’t ask me why.

I have no idea what she saw in Richard to make her even remotely consider him to be relationship-material, let alone make her fall in love with him. Throughout the book, they have zero chemistry, other than Emrys stating over and over how much Richard means to her. Richard “makes Emrys feel whole” (though we’re never shown how), and she apparently “fills a void in Richard’s life” too. But I didn’t see any connection based on Emrys loving Richard for being himself, or Richard being drawn to Emrys’s personality (or lack thereof).

The Writing

The writing… just… no. First, the book was narrated by Emrys, who we’ve already established I did not like. And boy oh boy, does Emrys love her similes and metaphors! She had more chemistry with those terrible similes than she had with Richard. XP No but really, there are similes and metaphors everywhere (a single page did not go by without one) and they did not make one bit of sense. “A terrible sound murders the sky”..?! (quote from ARC) Gahhhhhh.


In conclusion…

Just… nope. There was not a single thing I liked about this book. Why did I even finish it, you ask? Well, I made it to about 50% before I started to genuinely regret it, because I felt like maybe, maybe, the plot would kick in, and maybe some chemistry would appear, and maybe, please, God, let it get better.

No luck.

7 thoughts on “ARC Review: ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin

  1. Good thing I resisted the urge to download this one from Edelweiss. What a shame! The blurb definitely promises are more interesting story.. I already can’t handle too much romance and if it’s one I that’s not even swoony, I’m done.

  2. Zero chemistry? Ew. A boring , lovesick heroine who was supposed to be a badass faery guard? Double ew. My friend and I were actually planning to buddy read this when it came out, but after reading this review and many other negative ones, I might ask her to steer clear. Thanks for the honest review!

  3. First off – thank you for a well written and honest review Kristen. I’m impressed you made it to the end from the sound of things.

    Secondly – aaargh! It seriously irritates me when I am promised one kind of story by the back cover blurb and I get a book that bears no more resemblance to it than I do to a platypus. It’s not as bad if the story is different, but still entertaining – but it sounds as though “All That Glows” doesn’t even give the reader that small consolation.

  4. I am so glad I read your review. I love books about the Fae so of course I have been excited about this one but have not read a review on it yet. I’m sad that you didn’t like it. Unfortunately this book has moved to the lower part of my TBR pile…if I even read it at all. Thanks for the great review!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *