Reviewing sequels is always a mixed bag … especially because I realized that even though I made a marry date or dump post (remember those?) about the characters in this series last year, I never got around to reviewing it. But I had a few feels and wanted to see what other readers thought, so onward! I’ll try to keep the spoilers for the first book at a minimum, but there are some spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
To give some basic premise the book takes place in a world with two types of people silver bloods (who all have some kind of magical super power) and red bloods (who don’t). You can guess who is in charge. When red-blooded Mare Barrow develops a power usually reserved for the Silvers chaos ensues. She’s the object of intrigue of two princes, Maven and Cale, along with her childhood best friend. She’s the object of intrigue of two armies. She’s trying to figure out how to use her powers and her fame (from the first book) to overthrow her oppressors, but as the back of the book says Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Okay, thats the basic information about the book, now for a few feelings.
The first 250 pages were slow going for me. This series seems very similar (in a good way!) to the Grisha books, by Leigh Bardugo, and I think I’ve learned that while I’m totally enchanted by the peasant girl having to move to the castle and learn how to exist within court, I’m less into the revolution phase of these kinds of stories. I also don’t necessarily have the patience for world-building that some lovers of fantasy are enthralled with.
So yeah, because of personal preference and the fact I’m still in peak thesis mode the beginning was rough.
But then I became totally engaged in Mare’s character and the decisions she makes. The decision whether to use your power for good or evil isn’t anything new. Neither is the question of if the ends justify the means. But these struggles in Mare are handled in a way that felt fresh and unique. Questions of if Mare was every particularly good in the first place. If power corrupts or if it calls her character to a higher calling. Also questions of if Mare has any specific duty to be good. She’s been mistreated, tortured, and manipulated. The idea that she doesn’t necessarily believe in the white and black (or silver and red) of good and evil felt very believable to me.
Her interactions with Cal felt very believable to me, even if I wish there was a little more smooching.
Have any of you read the books? What do you think? Would love, love, love to hear any and all reactions.