In this second book of Wolf’s (Bring Me Their Hearts, 2018, etc.) fantasy/romance series, a spirited, undead teen suffers the consequences of earlier perfidy.
Nineteen-year-old Zera has revealed her true form. She’s “Heartless”—an unkillable human puppet in thrall to a witch. Her task was to take Prince Lucien of Cavanos’ heart, but instead, she fell in love with him; saving him, yes, but only after deceiving and betraying him. Now that she’s failed in her mission, Zera is expecting death when her witch severs the connection between them. Instead, she finds herself beholden to a new mistress—Lucien’s sister, Princess Varia, who’s returned from the dead and is determined to enforce a peace between humans and witches. Varia seeks the Bone Tree, a peripatetic talisman through which she will command an army of valkerax (gargantuan wyrms). To find the Bone Tree, Zera—on Varia’s behalf—must find out its location from a half-crazed valkerax. Yet if she does, what further pain may befall Lucien? Zera resolves to keep the prince safe, so no matter the cost to herself, she holds him at a distance. Despite her duplicity, Lucien still has feelings for her. If she does Varia’s bidding, Zera will be made whole again—and is any love worth more than that? After the cliffhanger at the end of the last installment, Wolf resumes her story with aplomb in a continuation that’s both faithful to the first novel yet also a clear progression. The plot is twisty but not contrived, and the subject matter, though emotionally heavy, never feels as such, as it’s lightened by Zera’s confident humor and breezy, present-tense narration. She’s a strong protagonist who’s at once willful and selfless and buoyed by an irrepressible bent for badinage. Wolf introduces some new characters in this book, and they take delight in Zera’s sassy nature, just as readers will.
A seriously fun concoction of tragedy and melodrama.