Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: From author for review
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.
(minor spoilers for first book in blurb) Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.
Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves.
But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.My thoughts (spoiler free):
You hear so much about sophomore slump in series but this one has none of that. I really liked the first book, but I have to say I enjoyed this one a bit more. This may also be enjoyed more by adults than the first one as one of the heroines in the tale is a mother, Naelin, who is quite mature to start, but still grows and has even more maturity in the end.
This book is split between several POVs (more than the first book) but you are never lost and it flows well. The multiple POVs enhance the story and bring you more fully into what is going on. We do get less of Daleina, our heroine of the last story, and her role and character feel like it is more relegated to a secondary character which might be my only complaint about the book. I really wanted to be with her as she also grew into more maturity. However, this is really a minor niggle and I still enjoyed the character who has fully embraced her new role in the story.
There were red herrings I fell for, some twists I figured out early and one huge twist I didn't see coming. This was an interesting adventure and a harder puzzle to see come together. It did fall into place well in the end and the book feels complete. You are left with open roads to more books in the series but no real cliffie... until... the epilogue. It wasn't the kind of cliffhanger I hate but it is one that does the job nicely in making me want the next book NOW.
I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really think this one was even better than the first book, but do not skip that first book. The first book solidifies the world and the problems within it. It is also a good book and should not be missed on that merit. I highly recommend this series to those that enjoy fantasy. It can also be easily enjoyed by those that don't foray too deep in fantasy since it isn't heavy handed but an enjoyable adventure.
If you missed it, the review of first book, The Queen of Blood.