Rating: 4 stars out of 5
As soon as I read DeStefano's first book in this trilogy, Wither, a few weeks ago, I knew I had to devour this book ASAP.
While this book didn't quite grab me the way that Wither did, it was nonetheless a compelling and worthwhile read. DeStefano picked up right where we left off, and instead of falling into the typical trap where the second book is largely filler, she immediately threw Rhine and Gabrielle into a difficult situation- and their difficulties just kept on coming.
This book was slower than the first, and does drag in places. Despite DeStefano's wisdom in keeping the plot moving, many of the characters we grew to love in the first book were entirely absent from this one, and at the end of the day, not much progress (if any, actually) was made toward a permanent solution to Rhine's dilemma. We did get deeper insight into Rhine, the deliciously twisted Vaughn, and into Rhine's brother Rowan through her memories of him and her search for him, though, so the book was far from wasted.
DeStefano also gives us no shortage of new characters to love. Much attention has been given to Maddie, the child who ends up accompanying Rhine on her journey. However, I was more taken with the enigmatic Silas, and sincerely hope we haven't seen the last of him. I'm always a sucker for a character who is rough around the edges but has a heart of gold, and I think I've found one in him.
I continue to struggle to feel anything for Gabriel, and as he remains Rhine's main love interest throughout this book, this is a real problem. He is loyal, I get it. But beyond that there is little about him to grasp onto, to root for, to care about. In truth, if he is never heard from again in the conclusion, I wouldn't much care- and sometimes I'm not positive Rhine would either
The problems with world building in this book remain. However, in the interest of enjoying the books and DeStefano's gorgeous writing, my advice to picky readers everywhere is to just do what I've done and let that go. While it's all very well to fuss and fret about world building, and intellectually it can be fun and fulfilling, when novels are as gripping and well written as this I think energy is better spent enjoying them.
I am really looking forward to seeing how DeStefano pulls everything together in the final book. I think if I were her I'd need a thousand pages- and I wouldn't mind if she wrote them. January can't come soon enough.