Top critical review
Suffers from the typical second book syndrome
Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2021
I liked this less than the first book, probably because it suffers from the typical second book in a series syndrome: you have to deal with the aftermath of book 1 and set up the rest of the story for future books, so the actual story of this book suffers as a consequence.
Most of this book draaaaags until the action suddenly picks up in the last 30 pages or so. It reminds me of Harry Potter books when Voldemort was kind enough to wait until the end of each school year for a show down with Harry. I guess he still cared about the boy's education. Same here - too much time is spent on rather irrelevant tangents and on waiting around for War to strike... which she doesn't, it turns out.
I also found the twist at the end with a certain individual being possessed not entirely plausible. As unhinged as Famine is shown at the end of the book, there is NO WAY she could have played the part for so long without Luce suspecting at least something was amiss. Unless Luce is so self-absorbed that she doesn't notice people around her... which the author tries hard to show us ISN'T the case. So yeah, this particular twist would have benefited of some more foreshadowing, in my opinion.
Also, no matter now pissed off her partner is with her after the stunt she pulled in this book. He SHOULD have at least texted when everything happened in the end. Yes, she betrayed his trust, but a family tragedy like that would overweight that, if they really were the kind of friends they were depicted to be up until that point. That reaction was very out of character.
My biggest problem with this book is the budding relationship between Luce and Cole. No. Just no. Doesn't the author realize just how problematic this is? Even if Luce doesn't remember it, she is the abuser in this relationship. She is the rapist. We are glorifying an abusive relationship in which one of the parties has no choice, no freedom, no ability to say no. Cole is bound to her. He can't leave and start a new life. And if Contest ever return in all her abusive glory, he will be back to being a slave. The fact that this relationship is supposed to be romantic makes my skin crawl.
So if this relationship is end game, I have serious doubts about continuing this series... I'll give it one more book to decide.