Author: Audrey Grey
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Publishing Date: November 14, 2017
I received this book from Blaze Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Though I received this novel from Blaze Publishing, I would have happily bought it on my own. I received the first installment in this series in late 2016 and fell madly in love with it. It’s been horrific waiting for the second book, as I’m a highly impatient reader, but I am so thankful that Audrey produced a novel that surpasses the first installment!
Maia Graystone is faced with the horrific consequences of her impetuous decision following the unexpected end of the Shadow Trials in book one, Shadow Fall.
Left with the burning uncertainty of her allies survival, Maia must find a way to escape the Empire’s clutches once again so that she can honor her promise to her father to end the asteroid hurtling towards the planet. As the journey unfolds, Maia is branded a traitor amongst the Rebels, and in a war between them and the Empire, she finds she is on a team of one. As alliances shift, and rumors wreak havoc, Maia must compose herself to enter the Rebel Blood Courts and fight to win command. Unfortunately, though, the reigning champion is an all too familiar friend, whom she would have to cut down in order to be crowned. Will Maia be able to overcome the confusing emotions she feels towards friends, allies, and enemies, or will she fall to defeat from her heartstrings that are too easily pulled?
Pros and Cons:
This novel is so beautifully written and is a huge step forward from book one. It is relatable, fierce, humorous, and even sensual. Audrey writes such a convicting story that it is immensely difficult to see any flaw – and those that you might see are almost easily overlooked.
This novel features so many wonderful components to its plot. With a strong female lead, diverse characters (LGBTQ+), and gripping dialogue, it is a powerhouse novel. One of the things I really loved in the book was that her character Lash, throws “love,” and “darling” around like its the individual’s name. It’s a small addition to character development that reminded me of how my southern family and I speak! I also loved the fact that Maia regularly makes impulsive decisions – as someone who has battled anger issues, I understand what it’s like to feel out of control. These little pieces create a lasting story for their readers and I so appreciate the work Audrey put into them.
As far as “cons” go, as I stated earlier, Audrey writes SUCH a great novel it’s really easy to overlook some small confusions. One thing that irked me through most of this story was that the plot between book 1 and book 3 all takes place in a little less than a month’s time. Though all things are explained away in the plot with plenty of information, with an ever-evolving and morphing protagonist it is really hard to gauge whether or not this is a pro or a con, a strength or a flaw.
In some situations, I can completely understand the changes that take place. Maia is 16 in the first novel but she easily feels 18-20 in the second. Sure, she still makes so emotionally lead decisions that cause issues (as any teenager would,) but she’s still matured and hardened drastically. I understand the idea of war, and that suffering, and torture can radically affect a person and their maturity levels, but in some instances, it all felt so rushed. Then again, if I had only a few weeks to live I’m sure I’d rush things, too.
So you see, I can’t tell whether or not that’s a pro or a con. As I said, it’s all easily explained away, and yet it still ate at me for all 300 pages. Once you read this 5-star series, you can determine it for yourself!
Maia Graystone is our protagonist, a strong female lead with highly convicting morals. In the first installment she starts off quite weak, and through her journey in book one she ends up stronger than she would have ever been capable of without the help of the Rebellion. In this novel, we get a closer look at Maia as she has hardened and shifted into whatever was needed to survive. Still easily emotionally motivated she is a very moving character. I found my heart panging for her throughout the novel as I understood her fear, pain, and anger. Equally, though, I felt her joy. When she laughed or smirked I found myself feeling it radiating from the pages. She’s a well-written character that I found such a pleasure to read. As she matures in this next installment we watch her toy with her sexuality, push the limits of her strength, and gain a deeper understanding of friendship and allies.
Riser Thornbrook is difficult to discuss without spoilers, so I’ll be vague. In the first novel, he is feral, and wild which creates the image of a dog. A vicious protector, but a loyal friend. In book two Riser’s imagery shifts to that of a machine, mechanical and calculated. This novel lets us learn a different side to Riser, while still also seeing that no matter how much someone changes, hints of who they are will never fade away.
One of my favorite characters in this novel was Taegan. Taegan is a queen in her own right. She’s aware of her own strength, and never questioning of it. She’s regal and beautiful and provides wonderful banter and support for Maia. As a “subversive” (the term used for anyone who isn’t heterosexual) she was considered less-than-human, having no place in society but when she joined the Rebellion, she took society by storm and made something of herself. I always love a good comeback!
Lash was another favorite of mine! He was a disabled healer with a heart of gold and an undying belief in the gods most thought to be dead. I love his spunk and his fight. He has such a desire to prove himself and that his disabilities don’t define him. Though he may not be able to help in the most “traditional” ways, doesn’t exclude him from still being an asset. His need to flirt with everything that moved and his unwavering pride was a pleasure to encounter. I always found myself smiling when he was around, and as someone with disabilities herself, I found him inspiring!
Unlike book one, this novel is not a coming-of-age. This novel is the making of a queen, learning not only how to fight for the rest of the world, but also how to fight for one’s self. This novel embraces the “love is love” philosophy with diverse characters, including two distinct situations in which characters suffer for their hearts desires. I rated it PG-15 as it takes a more mature step into the plot with more death, some sexual tension, innuendos (no more than a freshman in high school would make), the brevity of a harsh war and the torture included.
I am so thankful to Blaze for sending me this novel, and to Audrey for writing it. I am dying for book 3 and am so very eager to hear your thoughts as you tag along on this journey with Maia, and all the others!
“… saying you’re sorry is just empty words to make you feel better.”
“Family always comes before love.”
“With friends, sometimes the impossible becomes possible.”