The second book in the Rose Legacy series presents new challenges for human Anthea and stallion Florian (and readers too).
Anthea, her uncle Andrew, cousin Jilly, and others at Last Farm are now—along with their horses (with whom they communicate telepathically)—working for the Crown of Coronam as messengers. It’s part of a campaign by Queen Josephine to get the rest of the kingdom (king included) past the idea, rooted in legend, that horses brought a terrible plague to Coronam ages ago and so are to be feared and exterminated. Suffering terribly from middle-book syndrome, this story throws out bits of plot, eschewing character development, congruity, and even, at times, plausibility. The one comprehensible thread is that there’s a contagious disease spreading around the countryside, and people are beginning to blame the horses again. An all-woman team of scientists arrives at Last Farm to work on finding a cure. (Despite this gesture, gender stereotypes persist: Jilly is tediously interested in form-fitted clothes, and Anthea sees tears as a weakness.) There are twinges of war rumors with a not-nice country called Kronenhofer, some unsubtle nudges regarding Anthea’s traitor of a mother, and a plodding subplot about how Anthea’s friend Finn is the rightful king. Settings are numerous and interchangeable (as are most of the characters), and the saccharine “Beloved”-bestrewn telepathic addresses between Anthea and Florian have definitely reached the eye-roll stage.
A tedious, confusing setup for Book 3. Disappointing. (Fantasy. 10-14)