The second volume of this alternate-history fantasy trilogy provides more of the same, with some improvements.
After defeating the evil lord Scargrave and saving the kingdom, Lucy has retreated to an estate in rural Norfolk to practice her Chantress skills in solitude. But unrest continues to plague Henry IX’s England (replacing Charles I in Greenfield’s world): famine, a depleted treasury and common folk marching on the king’s palace. Lucy is recalled to court to find the stolen Golden Crucible, with which the king and his council hope to make gold by alchemy. It won’t be easy. Every courtier might be an enemy; some mysterious force has stripped Lucy of her ability to hear the magic songs that feed her power; and love interest Nat keeps avoiding her. After a slow start propelled by nonsensical decisions on Lucy’s part, the plot settles into mystery and intrigue with a side of message as Lucy rails against being married off like property. Anachronisms abound (Sybil Dashwood appears to have wandered over from a Regency novel, along with footmen and honorifics like “Miss”), but fans of girl-power fantasy who can put up with the rocky start probably won’t mind.
Nothing new here, but alchemy, feminism and two separate wicked plotters make this enjoyable enough to keep the pages turning. (historical note) (Fantasy. 12-16)