D.G.’s Rating = 4 stars: B+
If you read my review of the first book in this trilogy, you know that I liked many things about the premise but was underwhelmed by others. Luckily, The Crown of Embers delivered in a big way. It’s a great story of growth, hardship, lessons learned and an awesome romance. The ending is AMAZING and I’m so glad I have the ARC of The Bitter Kingdom (feel free to envy me) because I was able to start it right away.
In this sequel, Elisa is the Queen of Joya d’Arena but her problems have multiplied since her victory against the Inviernos. The enemy hasn’t given up on their attempt to capture her instead of having an open war, they are now relying on stealth. In the meantime, her instincts tell her not to trust some of her own people. She finds that being a rebel leader doesn’t mean that she can make a good Queen and she’s racked by indecision, tormented by some of the terrible decisions she has to make. Then she learns that there’s a mighty weapon at her disposal, one that can give her great power and she embarks on a journey to find it.
The first part of the book moves a bit slowly, as it deals more with Court intrigue. Once they go on the road though, there are many revelations, tons of action and adventure. Religion plays an important part in the plot – a particular religion of their world, not one of ours – which I find refreshing and honest. There aren’t that many YA based on religion strife and I’m glad somebody had the guts to create a world where differences in religion and interpretation are discussed, specially the danger of people deciding that their definition of “God’s Will” is the one and only way to go.
You know I’m a weeper so it’s not a surprise that I cried at some point in the book. I found the part where Elisa found what she needed to be a strong Queen specially moving.
The romance was…sigh…awesome. The love interest – I won’t say who he is in case you haven’t read the first book – was all Elisa needed and more: strong, honest, smart, considerate, husky (of course), romantic, even if his timing for the first kiss could have been better. There’s a bit of a star crossed lovers theme because they both need to marry other people to create alliances that can strengthen their position in the Kingdom. Some of those looks they gave each other just melted me completely.
Jennifer Ikeda did a very good job with the audiobook, so I recommend it to anybody who wants to try it. Her pacing, emotion and masculine voices were all terrific. Her pronunciation of the pseudo-Spanish wasn’t the best but unless you are a native Spanish speaker like me, that shouldn’t bother you.
The narrative builds slowly to an SPECTACULAR ending, among the best I’ve seen in a while. It’s definitely cliffhangerish – even if Elisa found what she needed in this journey – because it creates the situation for a new one, where lots of things are at stake. If you don’t like cliffhangers, I suggest you read it closer to the release date of The Bitter Kingdom which is coming out at the end of August. Otherwise, you’ll be in tenterhooks wondering how everything will end.
D.G.’s Rating =
Series Reading Order:
1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns
2. The Crown of Embers
3. The Bitter Kingdom (to be released Aug 27, 2013)
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