- Author: Kelly Coon
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: December 15, 2020
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Series: Gravemaidens #2
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily.
TRIGGER WARNING: alcohol abuse, gore, torture
Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.
But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.
Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.
I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of this book, especially since I enjoyed the first book so much (see review here). This one was just as good, in my opinion. It picks up the story 9 months after Gravemaidens ends, and gives the reader time to catch up without info dumping or recapping the entire previous book (which tends to bore me).
It was really interesting to see how much most of the characters had changed and grown since they left Alu. Kammani and Dagan seemed to have changed the least, since they had already been working to provide for their families, and generally acting as parental figures. Kammani still struggled with her need to control situations and take all the responsibility on her shoulders, along with the blame when things don’t go the way she expects.
Kammani continues to be torn between her love for Dagan and her fierce desire to be independent. She’s such a feminist, and hates the idea that a woman loses all of her rights in a marriage, becoming little more than the property of her husband and forced to do whatever he says, even though she knows that Dagan isn’t the kind of man who would ever take away from her independence. It got a little frustrating at times, because it felt like she didn’t really trust Dagan, although I really tried to understand how stifling a society where women had to give up all their rights in a marriage, and it was a little easier to extend some empathy towards Kammani.
It was great to see Nanaea really step up, become more responsible, and act more mature than she had in the previous book. The notable exception was Iltani, but I got the feeling from the start that she had the biggest character arc to demonstrate. I loved the focus on a female ruled society in Manzazu, and especially one in which the elite warriors were an all-female force. The Koru were awesome.
The action started quickly and was consistent throughout the entire story. The whole book was fairly fast-paced and it never felt like it lagged. I was quickly wrapped up in the story, and it honestly felt like visiting with an awesome group of friends that I haven’t seen for a while. The characters work well together, and most have their flaws that make them feel realistic. The only exceptions seemed to be Dagan and Nanaea, who are pretty perfect. I let it slide, though, since Nanaea made such progress between the last book and this one, and Dagan has his moments towards the end of this one (but I can’t talk about it because … no spoilers.
Overall, I loved the story and the duology in general. The book made me feel as if I was transported to Manzazu and Alu along with the characters, and I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next. Kelly Coon is absolutely an author to watch, and I’m going to be waiting to see what she puts out next!
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 12
Categories: Book Review