Top critical review
Having read book 3 now, I'm glad this wasn't the end. Book 3 is much better.
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2017
Vane is really trying to get used to this whole "you're our King and only hope" thing that came along with finding out he's a sylph. The problem is, he just isn't shaping up to be the kind of king everyone was hoping to be. And let's face it, when the salvation of an entire race is on your shoulders, and the evil you're facing is super evil, that's a bit much for anyone to try and live up to. Let alone a Westerly, who by their very natures are anti-violence. (Something the Gales didn't really take into much consideration it seems.) Oh, and because Audra is off getting some space to deal with her whole mom being a psycho-killer thing, Vane also is dealing with the pain of being separated from the one he is bonded to. (Another thing the Gales aren't too happy with, and still seem to be trying to set him up with Solana, even though Vane's made it perfectly clear he isn't interested in their pre-arranged marriage.) Audra's having issues of her own. She's trying to clear her head and gets captured by one seriously messed up sylph who sets her on a course to expose more of Raiden's dastardly deeds. She's trying to keep her bond to Vane and the Westerly abilities that came with that a secret, because she knows if Raiden finds out she's going to be his prime target number two. Or one, if he wants to use her to get to Vane (which knowing his twisted mind, he probably would). But during a rather tense situation in Death Valley when Audra overhears some of Raiden's plans and accidentally bumps into Vane, their secret gets out and they tick off Raiden even more. Now everyone must prepare for Raiden's vicious retaliation in the form of all out war.
This book is a little more serious than the first one in the series (mostly because it lacks the humor of Vane's epically bad dates). It does a good job of building the main characters more, though, and by the end the stage is pretty much set for the all out confrontation between Raiden and Vane, Audra & gang you can tell is coming in the next book. The wind abilities continue to be interesting, and those are further fleshed out here too. And probably most of all Audra and Vane's relationship is built further. Yes, it is still a bit mushy, but in some ways not in the easy-come-easy-go mode common in YA. The difference is that Audra and Vane are thinking life-long relationship, not just as long as it feels good. So in many ways, it feels more serious than normal, which is kind of refreshing. Now as much as I find the fantasy realm of sylphs that Messenger has built interesting, I would have been perfectly happy to have it resolved in this book (well, until the last couple chapters). I wasn't convinced it needed to go longer and sometimes it felt like things were thrown in just because, but there are a couple things that seem to be happening in the background I'd like to have explained fully, so bring on the next book but please don't string things on too long.
Notes on content: No language issues. No sex scenes. There is some heavy kissing. And it is mentioned that one character dresses rather scantily (her excuse is that she needs more exposure to the air to store winds). And the haboob idea sparks some teenage boy jokes. But nothing beyond those things. There are several clashes between Vane's friends and Raiden's forces that result in some gashes, dislocations, bruises and deaths. Most of the deaths happen in the background and aren't described (except for disintegration in winds). Some of the gashes and bruises get a little detail described. One character meets someone who was tortured and that is described a little. One character has to hide in a pile of dead bodies at one point. A town is demolished in a storm/battle and some of that destruction is described (mostly what happens to houses).