In the sequel to Of Metal and Wishes (2014), Wen faces an impossible choice—betray her country or let her beloved be slaughtered?
One year has passed since Wen and Melik parted following the destruction of the Gochan One slaughterhouse. Wen and her father now practice medicine at a weapons factory, while Bo, the former Ghost, has built a new lair beneath it. When Bo confirms Wen’s suspicions that the government is sending war machines to crush the Noor rebellion, she is horrified. Melik has joined the rebels, and innocent civilians will suffer if there’s any attack. So Wen runs away to warn the Noor, but nothing goes as she hopes. That includes her eventual reunion with Melik, who seems deeply changed by his experiences as a soldier. Most of the action takes place far from the grim factories that provided the memorably Gothic backdrop of the first novel, but the brutality of industrialized warfare provides more than enough darkness for the story. Also, in removing Wen from that setting, Fine gives her more agency as a protagonist than she had in the previous book. However, given the deep-seated racial tensions between the Itanyai and the Noor, the ending feels overly tidy, and that unfortunately lessens the emotional impact of the climax.
Neatly wraps up the romance, too neatly wraps up the plot. (Steampunk. 12-18)