It’s that time again. The time in which I decide to review a sequel in a series despite my insistence that I never will again. Apparently my willpower isn’t as strong as I pretend it is, but I assure you…this WILL be the last time. (Ha!)
“Why?” you ask, “am I breaking my own rule once again?” Punishment. Pure and simple. Honesty has always been my policy, and truth be told, I feel I wasn’t all that fair to the first book in this series. I very much enjoyed the book. I said as much in the review, but I was also incredibly frustrated with the publication confusion (and because of this) I don’t feel as if I did the novel as much justice as it was due. So I’ve decided to try again. With the second novel in the series. Especially since I believe it to be better than the first. That’s a sound reason right?
For those of you that have not read Shana Abe’s “The Sweetest Dark” I will try my best to refrain from using spoilers (for both novels) but consider yourself warned…just in case I unknowingly slip up.
“The Deepest Night” picks up exactly where TSD left off. With England deep in the throes of WWI. And (much like it’s predecessor) it’s a no holds bar game of truth and consequences.
With a spectacularly developed cast (that spans a bridge from orphaned girl to a psychologically unstable Duke) Abe explores the fallout of war. This (I can assure you in not all that original) it’s artfully accomplished, but nothing to get your panties in a bunch over. The originality of “The Deepest Night” comes into play when Abe combines “reality” (aka: the blunt grotesqueness of a (military) convalescent hospital) with the simplistic beauty of drakonian magic. (FYI that’s dragon in layman’s terms.) The combination of the two (and the connection between the two – which is a main plot structure in the novel) is what sets this book apart from so many others. The implication that the world (and its many issues) stops for no one or no thing.
TDN is a story of love, sacrifice and inevitability. The inevitability that sometimes you must sacrifice what (or who) you love for something bigger than yourself. This is a difficult thing to understand and accept, especially for Lora, (the main character) who has done NOTHING but sacrifice since the day she was born. Not so much for her counter part Armand who (though raised lavishly) is willing to thrust himself into the face of danger to protect what he views important. Because of this (their stark differences – characteristically speaking) the two make a provocative pair. Dancing across the page in witty/dynamic dialogue.
But enough about the characters, (I think I covered them fairly well in the first review) instead let’s talk magic.
I’ll happily admit that I am incredibly critical when it comes to judging the development of magic in stories. I blame this on Rowling. Before the HP series I was very hum drum on the topic, since then…I almost expect (however cruel this may be) the same level of intensity. I want (in no uncertain terms) for the magic (in whatever form it may be – this time if just happens to be the flip between human and dragon) to leap from the page. I want to picture it, clearly, in my mind. I want it to feel fantastical, yet real. I want to believe every single thing I read, reasonably or not. I don’t want their world and my world, I want OUR world. Abe accomplishes this…hands down. Dragon tails whipping, girls mysteriously fading into walls, boys who morph into smoke, I was right there with her. Believing her. Not questioning (for a second) her thought process or why she decided to phrase things the way she did. It was fact (according to Abe.) And I believe in fact.
In the end I was wowed. Wowed by an interesting plot, by the endearing characters, by the pace in which the story flowed. “The Sweetest Dark” is turning out to be a very solid series, and I am (more than) happy that I didn’t let my irritation rule my decision when it came to reviewing book two. Though I can’t give it the 5 stars so many reviewers are (that is an honor only a few ever receive) I will happily give it my stamp of approval. It’s a story worth both telling, and reading. Which is all anyone really wants anyways right?
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Sometimes its necessary that you let your heart be your moral compass.