It’s taken me longer than anticipated to finish this series mainly because I didn’t really love the second book in Shades of Magic as much as I did the first. Certain main characters in the second book just really got on my nerves, and we’ll leave it at that. So “A Conjuring of Light” sat on my shelves, waiting ever so patiently, for me to stop being petty and just finish the series. The third book picks up immediately after the second book, so if you’re like me and waited a while to return you’re going to need a bit of a refresher and recap before diving in, because the story doesn’t really allow for that right off the bat. But our main characters know from the start (or close to it) just what they face, and what will happen if they don’t deal with this threat, and atone for their own mistakes. Cue redemption arcs for everyone! Sure, some characters are redeemed more than others but I always love a good redemption. I love watching characters face the consequences of previous actions, and I love having those characters grow from the experience and strengthen their own relationships in the process. So, in a nutshell: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially compared to “A Gathering of Shadows”.
Like most epic fantasies, “Bloodsworn” starts in a quiet little village that lies in between two feuding nations. While far from the war themselves, the town takes strides to ensure that, should conflict find them, they’re ready. They prepare for two of their youth to be selected every year to be trained in the capital Academy, and take great pride in those Chosen. The residents of Jalard themselves are fairly traditional in their beliefs though; girls should not be warriors, and relations between the same sex are forbidden. So when two people no one expected to be Chosen are selected, friction between the villagers mounts, and when those Chosen disappear suspicions continue to rise. When those not selected decide to figure out what’s going on—again, like most epic fantasies—they uncover a plot that has devastating consequences for Jalard and the people of Sharma as a whole. But the heart of this story isn’t in the conflict, it’s not even the bloodoath which makes someone Bloodsworn—it’s the characters, their growth, and experiences that set this book apart from other epic fantasies.
I’m going to keep this review as brief as humanly possible, not because I don’t have thoughts on the final book in the Looking Glass Wars, but because this book is impossible to talk about if you haven’t read the first two books (and really, why are you reading reviews for this if you haven’t read the other two books?). But in “ArchEnemy” Alyss finds herself ruling over a queendom still suffering from a lack of imagination as the effects of book two are still being felt. There are factions of dissent Alyss never knew existed in Wonderland, and her enemies are still out there, waiting, and closing in… This book is almost non-stop action, which is what I expected given how things ended in the last book and what needed to happen this time around. But I also thought, given this was the final book in the series, that a lot of character work would be done as well and, unfortunately, there wasn’t.
I LOVED Spin the Dawn, it was one of my favorite books when I first read it, which set up exceedingly high expectations for the sequel, I will admit. Unravel the Dusk starts off almost immediately from where its predecessor leaves off, with Maia trying to save her kingdom by ensuring the emperor marries Lady Sarnai, but of course Sarnai has other plans. When she runs off, Maia has to step into her shoes and hope no one notices, which isn’t even a good plan on paper given how widely different in temperament both these women are. When the emperor’s foes wage war in force again, it’s left to Maia to find a way to save her country, which becomes harder and harder as she loses her internal battle against the demon inside of her. Gone is the fun plot line from the first book where Maia learns to wield her magic scissors to weave garments worthy of the gods, and instead is replaced by demon magic that, I felt, got overly repetitive.
“Candlewick 13: Curse of the McRavens” is the whimsical story of Valor McRaven, a Sorcerer in hiding on an island nation full of “normal” witches. These witches despise Sorcerers, mainly due to the fact that the Grim Warlock has placed a spell over the nation to ensure that the Knight of Night can’t undue the dastardly plans that he’s trying to enact. Early in the story, Valor and his entire family are tossed into a sanatorium-like prison, where dark forces are constantly trying to get rid of Valor, all ahead of the unwinnable tournament that Valor has been selected to partake in. With the help of his adopted sister, Doomsy Gloomsy, and a group of misfits, Valor must accept his role as the leader of their coven, and stop the Grim Warlock before he can enact his plan for the terrible Thirteenth Hour. But first, Valor has to survive this tournament. It’s an exciting Middle Grade fantasy adventure for sure, but I struggled with the story.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!