E-book provided by author.
There will be no explicit spoilers in this review. I may hint at things, and do so in a arguably confusing manner, but I'm avoiding giving away too much information! And anything that does sound like a spoiler, it wouldn't give away anything.
This is book two in the series, and is another fantasy adventure following Astrid, a blacksmith, in her new way of life as learns the necessity of what comes with it and finds herself once again traversing in foreign lands.
I definitely enjoyed this book more than number one. I think the first book in a series is never going to be the best because one always has to learn about this new world and meet the characters you'll be spending time with. Though there are some memory-jogging comments in it, there is not a great deal of faffing about trying to tell you the story of book one as quickly as possible. Better yet, book one is important on a few levels- for understanding characters or other (relatively minor) details. There is no necessity for reading book one and it was great in the way that it wasn't just the story from book one reworked- because I did worry that it would be an endless repetition of people hunting for blood-stones.
I liked having new characters as well. I liked the characters, don't get me wrong, but in short books like these, getting character development into the book can feel rushed so often there are few important changes than many gradual ones. I only say that because I wonder that in a series of short books, the speedy changes would be noticeable. Often the changes that are undergone are prominent and completely change a person's outlook, and having one of these every book would get tiresome and dull. Instead we get new characters with there own problems to overcome. I'm not saying it is rushed, just that it's a quick, gradual change (ignore the contradiction). That isn't to say there isn't gradual development though, Astrid, as the protagonist of both books, is slowly growing all the time. Her new walk of life means she must change and she tend to resist this. She loved her life already, and she fears it changing.
Margaret was really amazing for me- and was probably my favourite character in this book. I found her situation engaging, her attitude to it and other things mesmerising and I adored her relationship with Astrid. I get the feeling Astrid is worried about being accepted constantly: she does what she thinks she is supposed to do for her friends and fellow citizens, and her desire to be accepted- not shunned- is underlined by the shape-shifting element. Margaret slowly proves to be much more self-confident and self-assured. She tries to help Astrid be the same, and the language barrier added that interesting dimension to their friendship. I'm interested to see how Astrid acts considering what happened with Margaret.
I liked that there was still no great amount of romance in the book. Astrid has a significant other and though their engagements are... certainly unique, let's say, I can believe their love for one another (though thank goodness they do disagree on some things!) and don't see every encounter a potentially romantic lead.
Though there is one central plot, there are two paths following it; one is Astrid, the other is Norah. I don't want to say much about Norah since I'll enter the dreaded area of spoilers, but I will say I like Norah almost as kind of light relief element. I never believe there is any danger to her and I found myself laughing a few times at her one word responses and the audacity of some of her actions with others. It was pleasant that it wasn't forced.
Besides the most obvious thing when reading though, I think Norah's story was predominantly as a supporting story so Astrid's could remain engaging.
A final element I want to comment on is this New Religion. I really hated those guys- and I mean guys. This religion does not believe women have any value and as a bit of a feminist, this highly annoyed me. What's more, I hated what seemed to be the acceptance of many of the women to every vile whim of these men. Misogyny makes my blood boil and this element gave me something I could hate wholeheartedly, as well as making the book for more mature readers,
Once again, Resa wrote a book I seriously enjoyed and could read easily in a sitting or two at a length of 225 pages (PDF). I wasn't constantly surprised by the book- I do think it's easy to see where things are going- but the details themselves are interesting, and there are other elements to the event that only come to light later on. The Dragons also make an appearance, and who doesn't love dragons? Another really great read that you should rush out and read as soon as you can!
Be sure to read my review of book one, and come back on January 24th for the blog tour stop of this book!