Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.
Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.
As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.
A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.
As this sequel release got postponed by a long period, I’ve actually had the ARC for months now but I just didn’t feel like reading it too early. And I’m always apprehensive about Roshani’s writing because it doesn’t always work for me, and with this weird year and my raging reading slump, I didn’t wanna take any chances. But I finally felt the urge to pick it up and I’m glad I did before the release date, though I’m still processing my thoughts about what I ultimately feel about it.
Roshani’s writing is always exquisitely beautiful and poetic but as a reader who loves simple straightforward prose, I’m not always in the right mindset to enjoy her work. But it didn’t feel that way this time. I found this sequel much easier to read and I finished it in just two sittings which surprised even me – maybe I’m just used to her style now or maybe it was slightly less flowery this time around. I also didn’t find the pacing to be slow like many other readers seem to have; I actually thought it was pretty fast even though I agree that it’s not as action packed or tense as The Gilded Wolves. The descriptions of the Sleeping Palace, the withering cold in Russia and just everything that they found in that palace was all very lush and vibrant, and I could totally feel the chill in my bones.
But the historical references, the puzzles and riddles, and the theme of grappling with colonialism that seeped through the words in the first book, didn’t have the same affect in this sequel. I guess we lost a bit of that newness and it became something expected, and the author didn’t really expand on the magic system much in this book. Literally my only major complaint from the first book was that Forging wasn’t explained properly, and I felt like despite the presence of many Forged objects this time around, the art of Forging itself took a backseat and we got to know nothing more about it. In that sense, this sequel was much more character focused than plot focused.
And the characters are where I’m unsure how to react. I really do love them all, especially Laila and Enrique and Zofia. But I didn’t feel much of a connection to Severin in the first book and while Hypnos is interesting, I wish we got his POV too. But this time, every single one of them is wallowing in their own grief, keeping secrets from each other, there’s hardly any open communication between any of them – making it all feel like an overblown angst fest which I didn’t wanna deal with. It’s obviously not the book’s fault because even the first book had a lot of angst and pining, but I’ve really lost the taste for that sort of tropes these days and it made my enjoyment of the book not very satisfactory.
To conclude, this was a good middle book which I thought had great writing and created a beautiful atmosphere. You’ll definitely enjoy it more if you prefer character driven stories with a lot (and I mean a lot) of angst. While I found the identity of the villain to be pretty predictable, I did not see the twists at the end coming and that was a nice surprise, and a good way to keep my interest on for the finale.
PS: Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.