Their last misadventures brought them close to death, but the star-crossed lovers roar back to life in this sequel.
Grief- and guilt-stricken, the survivors now (again) serve opposing families. Always dramatic, Mahyanai Romeo becomes a vigilante to protect his fugitive (and ungrateful) Catresou in-laws. Meanwhile, Juliet, mistakenly bonded to Mahyanai Runajo, seeks loopholes in her new in-laws’/captors’ commands even as they wield her like a weapon against her Catresou kin. Even Paris reappears, albeit as one of the living dead enslaved by the Master Necromancer, whose magical malevolence has hastened the Ruining, eroding the blood-sacrifice–fueled walls around Viyara and rapidly reanimating the dead as ravenous revenants. Gender-bending Vai—likely Twelfth Night’s Viola and one of the few main characters of color—continues to defend the Lower City. Reunion and romance are repeatedly postponed, and the apparent finale pauses for a strange detour into the land of Death, where the four protagonists slog through a Dantesque nightscape of tormented souls, allegorical semimedieval monsters, and Greek-myth–level trials. With a multitude of points of view, chaotic fight scenes, and the feverish medieval-world-besieged-by-zombies plot, readers may not even care about Hodge’s (Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, 2016, etc.) departure from Shakespeare or the absence of the Bard’s levity.
Teens seeking melodrama, tense tragedy, and poignantly self-sacrificing protagonists will be amply rewarded. (Fantasy. 14-18)