A battle has been won. But the war has only just begun.
Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.
The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.
Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.
She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.
Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?
Welcome to the shadow hour.
Note: This is the sequel to The Girl at Midnight, and will contain spoilers for the series. You can find my review of the first book here.
I admit, I pretty much almost completely forgot what happened in The Girl at Midnight before starting this book. All I remembered were “bird-people” and “dragon-people” and “war.” That wasn’t wrong though! Fortunately enough, Grey does a good job at recapping what’s happened in the first book and I wasn’t too lost at all while starting the story. While I really enjoyed the action and adventure going on in this story, all the fighting and fun dialogue was a bit dimmed down by the dragging romances that I didn’t really enjoy. Overall though, there is never a boring spot in The Shadow Hour and remains a solid sequel for its predecessor, bringing readers ever closer to the oncoming battle that will happen.
The premise of the book surrounds an age-old war between the Drakharin and Avicen, fantasy races with dragon-like and bird-like features, respectively. No one knows when this war started or how, but they do know that the firebird has mystical powers that could determine the outcome of the winning side. The human raised by Avicen, Echo, finds herself the vessel for the firebird. However, she also finds knows that the best way to win this war, once and for all, is to get the fighting sides to really understand one another. And with that, Echo and her crew of both Drakharin and Avicen set out to find the secrets of the firebird, and how exactly to stop the war. However, the unleashing of the firebird also unleashed another power that is as dark and evil as the firebird is light.
“‘No life without death. No gain without loss. No savior without a destroyer.’”
The book is told through the limited third person POV’s of everyone in the main crew: Ivy, a sweet and kind healer Avicen who goes behind enemy lines as a spy; Caius, who used to be the Dragon Prince and ruler of Drakharin before his sister betrayed him; Dorian, Caius’s stoic protector; Jasper, an Avicen who is battling wounds but nevertheless has restless energy; and Echo, the firebird who has immense powers in her hand. I enjoyed reading from each of these POV’s, and it was very easy to switch between them. This back-and-forth flow also made the story really quick to read even though so many things are going on. I also really enjoyed each of the characterizations as well, and how unique each of them are and their idiosyncrasies and struggles.
“He’d protect his people and serve them, even if he had to do it from afar, without a title and with precious few allies. Even after they threw their support behind someone else.”
There are two romances happening alongside the other in the midst of all the action in figuring out the secrets of the firebird and defending against the dark powers that it unleashed. And, funnily enough, two love triangles that stem from these romances. One is with Echo and Caius and Rowan, who is Echo’s best friend and (now ex?) boyfriend. Basically Echo vacillates between the two men as she struggles with if her feelings for Caius are real or only because she has the memories of a previous vessel of the firebird who Caius was involved with, and the childhood friend who’s always had her back. I thought this was such a “meh” part of the book, not only boring but not quite developed as well. I don’t care either way for this romance. Maybe Echo can use her firebird powers to burn each of the love interests and exist as a powerful human herself. (Which brings me to the point: whenever some of the romance for this one seemed like it was going to progress, Echo would go like, “Hold on I need to concentrate on the mission” which made me quite happy. She doesn’t need either of the two guys.)
The next romance was exceedingly sweet, much of a slow burn, and in my opinion much more well-done (did I mention it’s a sweet gay romance?). Dorian and Jasper are on two different sides of the war, yet find solace with the other. Reading from their POV’s was soooo cute as they daydreamed about the other. I also really liked how this wasn’t a large leap, either. Both characters gained trust and understanding from the other. In fact, Dorian hesitated a lot with his feelings to reflect the conflicting emotions he’s experiencing – love for this beautiful Avicen, and guilt with all the Avicen he’s hated and killed before. For some reason the author adds another love interest: Jasper’s abusive ex, who is a warlock that’s helping out but otherwise untrustworthy. He was good for Jasper’s character development but I didn’t think it was necessary to add him into the romance at all.
I really enjoyed the action-packed adventure that The Shadow Hour had, but was really disappointed with the romance and wish that it could have been cut off for the most part. If not, then at least a more explored development emotionally for each of the characters (at least, for the Echo/Caius/Rowan triangle. The Dorian/Jasper/unnecessary warlock one was pretty good for the most part). Other than that, I’m excited to see more action, more firebird powers, and more character development that Grey has for us in the next book!