In this second installment of a YA fantasy series, a half faerie must decide whether incarnating a wicked entity will stop a fiendish princess from seizing the throne in the Realm of Faerie.
Now that Gray-Faerie regent Elendah is dead, war between the Dark and Light in the enchanted world is imminent. Princess Lilliane convinces Queen Luisa that the Albiana lineage is a threat to the throne—specifically, half mortals like Melia. The genuine threat is Umbra, a bodiless being in need of a willing vessel and who’s already failed in swaying Melia. Her sisters and cousin Gabriela, however, may be in danger, so Melia traverses the mortal world to warn them. Flora, the last of the spring faeries, later makes a startling proposition—Melia should voluntarily incarnate Umbra. If the half faerie can learn to control Umbra, she’ll be a formidable opponent to Lilliane, who’s garnered power as a practitioner of black magic. Melia doesn’t get much encouragement from maybe love interest and priest Ryder, worried that the entity will kill her. But she also has competition for the role of vessel, ranging from dragonwitch Sevondi to young Jade, Gabriela’s granddaughter, whom Umbra seems to target. Interested parties may need to steal a magical sword and basin for the incarnation, while Melia will have to elude an assassin Lilliane sends after Jade. Despite teasing a Dark/Light confrontation, this sequel to Half Faerie (2014) is really a struggle over who will embody Umbra. Both Sevondi and Jade fight for the opportunity, the latter believing Umbra’s chosen her and who further sparks a delightful romantic entanglement by adhering herself to Ryder. Dialogue-laden scenes have surprising momentum, with characters generally discussing strategy, and Umbra telepathically relaying to Flora his intention to destroy the Whole (all known worlds). Mortal-world inhabitant Jade’s cynical self-awareness, meanwhile, adds humor. Anticipating her rescue when captured, she muses: “Isn’t that what happened in the enchanted world? Damsels in distress and all.” A climactic war in Faerie is saved for a subsequent volume, but Garrett (Isolt’s Enchantment, 2015, etc.) wraps up this entry satisfactorily, with a bloody skirmish, some deaths, and a reunited family.
Dynamic characters choose sides on the battlefield and in their hearts, aptly setting the stage for the next book.