Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker. ★★★★
The Arcadia Project trilogy has been one of my all time favorite urban fantasy series. I’m sad to see it come to a close, but I found Impostor Syndrome a more than satisfying conclusion.
Before diving into the review, I want to note that this is a sequel. Impostor Syndrome picks up directly where the cliffhanger ending of the second book left off, so be sure to read the series in order. If you’re new to the books, the first is Borderline, which I highly recommend.
After learning that spells are sentient (and enslaved) spirits and that the head of the Project handed a child over to be tortured, the LA branch of the Arcadia Project is in revolt. Someone, London HQ finds a way to frame Millie’s partner Tjuan for murder. They can’t think of any way to stave off the power of the London HQ but then Millie comes up with the idea of a heist that will take them from London to the palace of the Seelie Queen.
For me, the big draw of the Arcadia Project series is Millie herself. She’s got a unique voice and a strong personality. I think she’s also been growing a lot through the series. In Impostor Syndrome, she feels like she’s been having a backslide in her mental health, which is pretty true to life. Mental health improvement is rarely straightforward. Despite this, she’s got to be there for Tjuan and the everyone else effected by Dame Belinda’s tyrannical rule.
Since I first read Borderline, I’ve classified Millie as an antiheroine. There’s actually a pretty great part in Impostor Syndrome where she refers to herself as such, but this third book asks whether or not this assessment is accurate. Is Millie really an anti-heroine… or is she a true heroine? An antiheroine who decides to try and act like a heroine? With so many anti-heroic characters, they tend to stumble further down the moral event horizon. Millie’s going in the opposite direction, trying to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be.
My criticisms of Impostor Syndrome come down to quibbles. The pacing and plot structure probably could have been smoother. There was also a segment written in the style of a screenplay. While it made a certain amount of sense for the circumstances, I thought it went on a tad too long. Otherwise, I don’t have much to complain about.
I don’t know if this will be the ending that everyone wants. The plot arc is finished, but there’s plenty of tangles left to be unraveled. Such as it is with life. While some things didn’t end as I might have wished, I think the ending makes sense for the story Baker’s telling. On the whole, Impostor Syndrome is a satisfying conclusion.
I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.