The richly suspenseful sequel to Sophie Jordan’s romantic fantasy Reign of Shadows.
Luna and Fowler have escaped the kingdom of Relhok, but they haven’t escaped the darkness. When a battle against the dark dwellers mortally injures Fowler, Luna is faced with a choice: put their fate in the hands of mysterious strangers or risk losing Fowler forever.
Desperate to keep the one bright part of her life alive, Luna accepts the help of soldiers from a nearby kingdom. Lagonia’s castle offers reprieve from the dangerous outside world—until the king discovers both Fowler’s and Luna’s true ties to Relhok and their influence over the throne.
Now pawns in each kingdom’s political game, Luna and Fowler are more determined than ever to escape and build the life they’ve been dreaming of. But their own pasts have a tight hold on their hearts and their destinies. Luna must embrace the darkness and fire within her before she loses not only Fowler, but the power she was destined to inherit.
Thank you Harper Collins for the review copy!
Disclaimer: May have minor spoilers from previous book; you can find my review here.
It was super exhilarating to be picking this sequel up after the way the previous book Reign of Shadows ended. I really enjoyed the first book despite some common fantasy tropes pulled off, but ultimately it was so sweet and a fun Rapunzel retelling that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Rise of Fire starts immediately after it as readers are thrown into the world that was affected by the eclipse. It follows the highly romantic aspect that the first book had, and continues with the limited world-building which leaves readers with unanswered questions. Objectively, the ambiguous world-building from the previous book continues, but subjectively, the conclusion was satisfying and sweet for such a short and easy read.
I think that the romance and encounters between Luna and Fowler was the star of the book. Everything else felt like it was half-planned, while their feelings towards each other are rather pronounced and emphasized. There are some added characters in the book that, rather than a physical threat, jeopardized their relationship due to political reasons. At some point throughout it all I felt like I was watching a TV series because it suddenly got a bit angsty in the romance department, but luckily I sped through those parts (and the book in general). It was really awesome to see Luna save Fowler though, and vice versa. Jordan writes a relationship where both characters can stand independent but also help the other. There are no damsels in distress in this one. After reflecting on this book, I do believe that romance was an important factor of the story that everything else was added on to embellish. And while I really did enjoy it as a lover of romance, I was also a bit disappointed by everything else.
“She was special. An anomaly. She shouldn’t even be alive, but she was. She lived and I wanted to pull her inside me, absorb her and keep her until I knew her as well as the shape and protrusion of my own bones. Until the taste of her was as clear to me as my own.”
The book starts off in action as Luna and Fowler land in the pit where dwellers live and feed off humans. They manage to escape, and end up embroiled in the court of a nearby kingdom. While in the first book the characters had to survive in the wilderness of the Outside, now they have to survive in the court. Here we have stereotypical evil kings, spoiled princesses, and curious princes. Quite honestly, I breezed through this part because it was mostly boring and contained a lot of predictable and overused tropes. For some reason, despite these cliches, I still really enjoyed the tale. I like to liken this duology as a feel-good, mindless fantasy read that has satisfactory character development and plot without getting too deep or complicated.
“‘Who would want to leave the castle? It’s dangerous out there.’
It’s dangerous in here, too.”
The overall conclusion and climax was ultimately quite underwhelming. It just felt like the author gave up halfway and wrote a simple explanation to make everything work out to create the ending she wanted. Granted, I really liked the ending, but it seemed a bit lazy with the deus ex machina devices. Additionally, the world-building is not strong in this one so throughout the book I never really felt like I had a good grasp of the world the characters are in. The events of the eclipse are not brought out or explored, which made it a mundane part of the book. What really stood out at this point was Fowler and Luna’s passionate devotion to each other and how each strengthened the other. Readers looking for a romance read will be superbly satisfied with this one, while ones who like it to be in the sidelines might want to look elsewhere.
“‘As long as you are well, as long as you are alive… thriving… then I am well. I will be with you always.’”
I really recommend readers of YA fantasy who love fairy-tale retellings and an emphasis on romance in general to pick this series up! It’s great for a binge read as well, since the books are not that long. Either way, it really feels like the plot and world development took a backseat to the romance. It would have been okay if things were explained and further explored by the characters, but there are some unanswered questions I had. However, I was still wholly satisfied by the ending and thought it was really sweet and cute! I enjoyed it overall, but there were definite problems that hindered my reading experience in the end. I’ll be looking forward to this author’s other works!