*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Dylan Farrow
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 26, 2022
Shae’s entire world has been turned upside down, and everything she’s ever believed is a lie. More determined than ever, she sets out to the mysterious land of Gondal—a place forbidden to mention and resigned to myth—in search of a dangerous magical book that could alter the fabric of the world. Following the trail of Ravod, the boy she thought she knew and trusted, Shae discovers there is far more to the young man who stole the Book of Days than she ever realized. Together, with her friends, Mads and Fiona, and a newfound ally in her fierce former trainer, Kennan, Shae crosses the borders of the only home she’s ever had and into a world ruled not by magic, but technology and industry—one fraught with perils of its own. In a world shrouded in lies, Shae is desperate for answers and to restore peace, but who will lift the veil?
In this follow up to Farrow’s first novel, Hush, the Shae and her comrades begin to pursue their quest to save Montane from the violent clutches of crazed, but powerful ruler Cathal. Their goal: to reverse the sickening poison that is leeching life from both the land and its citizen and bring peace and freedom to the people of their world.
What was most enjoyable to witness was the journey of growth and self-discovery seen in secondary character, Kennan. Quite the antagonist in book one, she finds her footing, her confidence, and her true calling in this second book, becoming the shining star of this story. In what is a radical transformation, she slides from trouble maker to natural-born leader, to strong authority. Once divisive, she becomes the glue that holds this group of young fighters together with her strategy, cunning, and wit.
However, this book fell flat for me with a strange world that was jarring and unexplained. I couldn’t rationalize this weird world that Farrow constructed as her characters expand out into the mysterious land of Gondal. Rather than continuing along the same lines of Montane (think: LOTR-sequel medieval fantasy world full of magic), she moves into a semi-futuristic world that closely resembles our own but in the not so distant future. It’s a jarring shift and is never explained as to why these two not-so-far-apart worlds are so different. In the mythical stories told about Gondal, there’s no indication that it’s actually going to be a shift in genre for this novel. We move from medieval-inspired fantasy to action sci-if. I’m all for world building and genre-bending (here’s looking at you, Cloud Atlas), but this was not a smooth transition. It’s nonsensical shift is enough to rip you right out of the novel to question what on Earth you’re reading.
And if you’re looking for a fulfilling resolution to the romantics sparks that flew in book one, prepare to be disappointed. Raved is confusing as ever, and whatever is going on between him and Shae is not healthy, supportive, or encouraging.
I’ll give it a ‘meh.’ Didn’t hate it, but there’s a lot going on that I struggled to accept. Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did.