One threat against Karthia may have been vanquished, but new dangers are on the horizon for the kingdom of magic and necromancers.
This sequel picks up moments after the first book concludes, with Odessa sailing away from Karthia after killing the tyrannous king. However, the brown-skinned master necromancer quickly returns following a call for help from her friend and new queen, pale-skinned Valoria. Her subjects are pushing back violently against Valoria’s inventions and changes, particularly her edict that the Dead will no longer be raised to reside among the living. This and other conflicts escalate slowly, but the major threat—Ezoran invaders heading toward Karthia—is distant rather than immediate, leaving the story without a major conflict driving it forward. The strength here instead lies in inventive worldbuilding and interactions between the dynamic cast of characters. Marsh (Reign of the Fallen, 2018, etc.) introduces surprising new magic and pushes the boundaries of what readers—or characters—believed possible. Some additions are overly convenient but undeniably fun—such as the dog-sized dragon Nipper, who latches on to Odessa and offers multiple plot-essential abilities. The already robust cast, diverse in both race and sexual orientation, is joined by new faces. Bisexual Odessa deepens her relationship with the pale-skinned beast master Meredy, while both girls cope with grief for lost loved ones.
Slow-moving but ultimately a satisfying addition to this inventive, character-driven fantasy series. (Fantasy. 13-18)