I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
This installment of, what I assume will be a series (each book end in a way that it can be the end of the story, but leaves enough room for more if needed) was much darker than I anticipated. And that is not a bad thing, it was just kind of surprising.
We start off with Seraphina hopeful, despite the civil war brewing, that she would be able to locate all the Half-dragons in her “garden” and use their abilities to help her country defend themselves in the upcoming fighting. But her hopes and dreams are literally used against her, stolen and twisted by one of her own. What I liked most about this plot is that there was no easy fix, Seraphina literally makes mistake, after mistake, after mistake....because our villain plays on her biggest weakness: her soft heart, and her loneliness. She really wants to have that family that she never got as a child. And she put all her dreams into finding these half-dragon, people who could finally relate to her, who were like her and could be her family. So letting go of that dream and those people...was the last thing she could do. And it is used against her. Her biggest weakness, though, was her fear of her own power and the part of herself what was not human. Due to fear, she tied herself up in and hid away…literally...and this handicapped her in fighting the evil they faced, and with helping her fellow dragons. So she had to fix herself before anything else. She was her own block and had to get out of her own way...like with most people really. We are out own worst enemies. I liked Seraphina. She was wishy washy, and insecure and afraid, and totally in over her head. But that made her real. You can relate. I never liked heroes that were always perfect, and always knew what to do, and were never afraid. That is not realistic. We all have flaws and doubts and hang ups...but what makes a heroine is succeed despite all of that, without necessarily fixing it all.
I also loved, loved the villain of the book. If you have a good villain, with good motivation, instead of just cardboard cutout terribleness just to be terrible, then you pretty much have me. The villain’s motives and actions are completely understandable....horrifying and terrible, but based on what you learn of her and her life, you understand why she would reach this place and take the path she did. And you understand why Seraphina is so reluctant to just give up on her and the idea of saving her. The plot reveal of all the consequences that her deliberate actions brought forth was handled very well. I like that you see hints of things throughout a book, and lines of plot almost knitting together.....and then finally in the end they meet and everything makes sense. This book was very nicely paced and plotted, and it tied into the first almost seamlessly. That is not always the case for sure. Another thing I enjoyed, was the time spent on building up the secondary characters. They were also interesting, and full of surprises. That made me care more about the outcome and be as horrified as Seraphina when they were hurt.
So good plot. Great characters, and good fantasy world building= enjoyable reading. Based on the questions brought up about Seraphina’s power and some of the revelations in her personal relationships with the Queen and Consort….I expect there is plenty to cover in another book.