Mirage, now dauphine, is back in this sequel to Amber & Dusk (2018).
Mirage has succeeded in dethroning her half sister, Severine, but ruling isn’t easy, and the tension of the transition is worsened by the rise of a religious zealot and his followers who incite citizens against Mirage and wreak havoc in the Amber City. Though Mirage is a sympathetic character, readers may wonder if she’s actually fit to rule: She’s learned to read but doesn’t understand much about the kingdom she’s ruling and makes impetuous choices, sometimes ignoring feedback from advisers and other times following said advisers’ plans seemingly without thinking things through. When her charming, handsome, distant cousin Gavin—the only other person with a legitimate claim to the throne—arrives, Mirage must battle both Gavin’s machinations and her peoples’ perception that he’s the true Sun Heir. A mysterious, ancient, magical test to determine succession surfaces, and it’s clear that Mirage has grown: She no longer believes she’s owed the throne by virtue of her birth but instead chooses to fight for it. Secondary characters are better fleshed out than in the first book, though the penchant for excessive metaphors and similes remains and is distracting. Most significant characters are described as white.
There’s enough here to please fans of the first novel. (Fantasy. 14-18)