Grief and guilt serve as dominant themes in this tragic romance, second in the Guardians of Tarnec series.
Separated from her beloved cousin Lark (protagonist of Lark Rising, 2014) and devastated by the slaughter of her intended before her eyes, Evie Carew longs to die as well…if only her inborn Healer instincts would permit. She finds renewed purpose when Laurent, a fabled Rider of Tarnec, reveals that she is one of the four ordained Keepers of Balance against the Breeders of Chaos. Evie accepts her duty as Guardian of Death to seek out a stolen amulet, but both her intense attraction to the handsome Rider and her lively curiosity lead to choices that may doom her mission—and the entire world. This sequel shares the dreamily poetic voice and original magic system of the first, but it has a much darker tone and subtler characterization. While Laurent is mostly a bland generic love interest, Evie shows considerable depth and agency. Her rage, despair, and guilt feel very real, and she is far more assertive than her diffident cousin. Unfortunately, the narrative casts these strengths as disastrous vulnerabilities; Lark’s newfound decisiveness is likewise punished. Still, the suspenseful pace retains interest up through a chilling climax, with a literal cliffhanger to keep readers hooked.
Just the ticket for fantasy readers who want a swoony love story and a good cry. (Fantasy. 10-16)