Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book Review: A Poison Dark and Drowning

Title: A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire #2)
Author: Jessica Cluess
Genre: Historical Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Source: ALA
Format: ARC

The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?
Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.
Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.
So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth (goodreads)

A Poison Dark and Drowning will hit you right in the feels over and over again. 
Plot: A Shadow Bright and Burning surprised me by its originality and levity. I expected to read like a typical dark fantasy, but I was happy to see that the characters weren't afraid to laugh at themselves. A Poison Dark and Drowning brought this series to the next level and I can't even imagine what note this series will end on. 

My biggest regret with entering this sequel was that I did not give A Shadow Bright and Burning a reread. I expected A Poison Dark and Drowning to provide some sort of recap but none was given. I spent the first 100-200 pages being frustrated because I had forgotten a lot; I had even forgotten what ship I supported! Regardless, I found my groove and was able to look past the notion that the author didn't provide any sort of set-up. A Poison Dark and Drowning was a darker than A Shadow Bright and Burning and brought about new information regarding the Ancients, Henrietta's Chosen One status, and the relationship between Henrietta's family and Blackwell's family. Be prepared to have your jaw drop more than once!

Characters: Henrietta is one of my favorite Young Adult voices because of her complexity. In this series, she was restricted by her own naivete and societal restrictions. She made a lot of decisions and Cluess made the effort to show how each decision was made and how the outcome affected her and her comrades. A Poison Dark and Drowning also gave Cluess the platform to explore secondary characters and that was my favorite aspect, especially because it seemed like loyalties were wavering. 

The romance was something I couldn't put my finger on; like I said, I couldn't even remember who I was shipping. With A Shadow Bright and Burning, I was confused by how many potential suitors Henrietta had. I am still confused, but I can say that there are at least three young men who harbor some sort of emotions for Henrietta. I don't want to say that there are "teams" in this series, as I can see Henrietta making a very definitive decision in the end, but I do like how each suitor played to a different side of Henrietta. 

Worldbuilding: This may be a weird comparison, but I got major Attack on Titans vibes in this world. But think about it! There were giant man-eating monsters that had all of London under attack and a few warriors who were tasked with bringing them down; sounds like the anime to me.

Despite the awkwardness of imagining giant naked people, I really liked seeing how Cluess crafted a post-barrier London. There was more tension in the air and the characters were forced to explore the faerie realms which added some nice depth to this world.

Short N Sweet: It's a true feat when the sequel is stronger than the first novel; I'm ready for the third book now!


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