This is the sequel to Trial of Fire, which was the previous book I reviewed. I expected this to be incoherent and make a mockery of itself, because it looked like this story would be taking place in the real world. You know, instead of the interesting fantasy world that had been built up to now. I prepared myself for disappointment.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was actually incredibly good, and a step up from the first book. Our protagonist returns to the real world, and of course real-world things happen, but the author manages to develop several characters nonetheless.
We get a throwback to the events that happened previously. We have a meaningful interaction with the only main character I give a shit about. The love triangle is back, only it looks a bit more serious this time. A goth girl joins them. (No, seriously.) One of the villains from the first book is actively trying to kill them this time, and thus is portrayed as MUCH more competent than any of the other villains.
But more than any of that? Our antagonist's backstory! We finally find out why she took Lily from her world, and her reasons for becoming the tyrant she is today! And holy shit, did this deliver. Lillian is a really well-written character and she, more than anything, kept me reading.
I was unsure about what I thought of this book during the first half. Lily gains a bunch of new friends, all of whom become her mechanics, and she has to rapidly explain to them about magic and willstones and shit. They believe her a bit too quickly, imo. It's a bit rushed. Oh, and two of them are in love with each other, so thanks for that.
Spoilers ahoy now.
One of the villains from the last book is actually doing something villainous now, and he kills Lily's father. Wow, that's intense. That's tragic.
...or at least it WOULD be if the book ever went into any depth about Lily's dad or anything. Which it doesn't. We've never met him. He's never said a fricking word. We are never, ever introduced to him, not even when he's about to die.
I mean, come on, you want to care us about that? Well, I don't. If you're going to kill off a character, make us care about them first.
Which brings me onto my next point, because - the author does exactly that near the end. Kills off one of my favourite characters, who was initiating a love triangle with Lily.
And you know what? Rowan has been the love interest for the WHOLE of the first book. In the second book, Tristan takes over. And the thing is that Tristan's relationship with Lily feels so much better. They have an understanding. With Rowan, they're almost always fighting. Rowan's a dick and I don't like him. I'd really rather she ended up with Tristan.
On the other hand, Tristan is a womanising dudebro. Yeah. But I still empathise with him, and the fact that I PREFER this guy to the main love interest tells you just how much is wrong here. The thing is that Tristan really, really improves by the end of the book...
...well, until the author decides to kill him off. Great. Fan-fucking-tastic. I guess we're stick with Rowan the dickhead now. Who has now betrayed Lily and is probably going to try and kill her.
I don't want to spoil Lillian's revealed backstory, but I was really moved by it. A lot of things made sense. A lot of pieces fell into place.
Problem is, it also started to feel like the author was trying to shove some no-nukes + hardcore vegan agenda down our throats. The protag is passionate about being against nuclear weapons, and about being vegan. Fine, she was like that in the first book. That's fine.
Until we discover that Lillian, the antagonist, has visited other worlds and found that nuclear war has obliterated the planets (oh no, hate the nukes), and that humans are using other humans like animals by keeping them alive and cutting off their limbs to eat. That sounds suspiciously like...the same vegan stuff she's been throwing at us...
I don't know why they didn't just kill the humans, freeze the bodies, and THEN eat them? Do they not have refridgeration or something? It seemed unnecessary really, just being edgy here...but whatever.
That aside, it was really good and I definitely enjoyed it. I'm a bit annoyed that they killed off the only semi-decent guy in the love triangle, thus dooming us to King Dickhead as the love interest instead, but there's also a lot of twists about the Woven themselves which were really interesting.
All in all, loved this book and didn't expect to.