In this sequel to The Last Changeling (2014), set entirely in Faerie, faerie princess and revolutionary Elora, supported by Taylor and a handful of other human stalwarts, continues her mission to free the faerie underclass as conflict between Bright and Dark intensifies.
Relying on the Seelie Court to help free her people from her mother’s brutal regime, Elora lays her plans. Shorn of her wings, she finds comfort and healing in Taylor’s arms as they prepare for the struggles ahead; making and learning to use new weapons keep the humans occupied. Discovering their old nemesis, the unspeakable Brad, badly injured, they realize that the dark faeries aren’t their only enemies. As the plot shifts from Seelie to Unseelie realms, the plot grows increasingly violent—humans are tortured, torrents of blood are shed, limbs are hacked off. (In contrast to this, Faerie overall is vaguely rendered, thanks to inconsistent worldbuilding.) Interrupting vividly detailed bouts of torture, alternate narrators Elora and Taylor muse elegiacally on ends vs. means; eventually the action slows to a crawl as characters make long speeches. Turgid, high-fantasy melodrama was absent from the first outing, where ethereal Elora’s attempts to fit into all-too-real high school culture made for humor and grounded the plot in our familiar world. Fortunately, Taylor’s distinctive voice and smart, self-deprecating humor remain narrative strengths that mask structural failings.
An enjoyable-enough read for high-fantasy fans and readers with a substantial tolerance for blood. (Fantasy. 14-18)