* I received this book from NetGalley to preview for free. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.
After a long and arduous journey Neryn has finally arrived at the rebel camp deep in the heart of Shadowfell. There she gains skills that will help her on her quest to seek the Guardians, who are essential to her training as a caller. She is paired with the headstrong warrior named Tali who is her opposite in every way. Together both women travel to the four corners of Alban to seek the Guardians and to gain the support of the Good Folk as they seek to overthrow the King. Not all the Guardians are ready and willing to help, and Neryn must use everything she knows to sway their opinion in her favor. The stakes are ever higher for Flint as he walks a narrow line of deception with the already suspicious King. The strength and mettle of both characters is tested beyond reason in this second installment of the Shadowfell series.
Once again we find Neryn taking several long journeys across the country of Alban. Instead of the steadfast companionship she shared with Flint, she is pair with Tali. I did not care much for Tali in the first book but found myself adding her to my favorite characters list very quickly. She is a very headstrong and stubborn character that balances out Neryn’s caution and quietness. While the characters are not in as much danger in every chapter like they were in first book, Marillier certainly ramps it up at the end.
Another strong point was the development of the Good Folk who are featured more in this book than the last. We get insight into their distrust and get to meet some really amazing characters. I also enjoyed the Guardians who were much more than just god’s with special powers. The challenges that Neryn faced under their instruction was well written and didn’t mince with the consequences of her gift. She learns that every action has a reaction both good and bad. This is something that is often missing in high fantasy books.
Readers looking for more romance in this installment might be disappointed. Flint and Neryn are rarely featured together and when they are, don’t expect sweetness or soft sighs. The reality of their situation is featured prominently and I for one enjoyed this approach. Too many books make the romance fluffy in the midst of war but Marillier does a good job of showing how perilous their relationship really is.
The book ends with a large cliff hanger that will make you wish the next book was already out. The only issue I had was that the journey’s again, are quit long and sometimes the story tends to drag on a bit. However, the character development and final chapters more than make up for it. I recommend this for teens looking for a well rounded and strong fantasy female character that is not wrapped up in fluffy romance. Readers looking for characters that have both flaws and strengths will enjoy this coming of age fantasy series.