Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
I LOVED A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Grey was definitely one of my favourite characters so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel where he was the main character! It did not let me down one little bit and I flew through it reading every spare minute I had. Be warned!!! This review will contain spoilers for the first book!!
After the shock ending of Curse Grey has gone into hiding, working as a stable hand in a neighbouring village he just wants to live a quiet life away from the Palace and the weight of the knowledge that he is the rightful heir to Emberfall’s crown and the last known mage. But Prince Rhen has heard whispers and when the Queen of the neighbouring Kingdom tell him that his previous Guard knows the name of the last mage, his fear of magic causes him to send his soldiers on a search for him. Lia Maria the eldest daughter, and yet not heir to the Syhl Shallow crown realises that her mother and sisters attempts at bullying Rhen into an alliance will not work and offers herself as a negotiator. When Grey is captured and brought to the castle the two meet by chance, neither aware of the path that lays ahead, and that only together may they save the kingdoms.
As I said before Grey was possibly my favourite character from A Curse So Dark and Lonely and this book simply made me fall in love with him more. His utter and somtime’s blind loyalty to Rhen put him in danger more than once, but it is only when Rhen hurts an innocent, someone that Grey cares deeply about that he starts to wonder whether Rhen is as good as he imagined. He has absolutely no will to become the ruler of Emberfall, or to realise the full extent of his power, however, forces more powerful than him have other ideas in mind. He brings about a loyalty in his motley crew that is both inspiring and unsurprising and I loved seeing his inner turmoil about whether to take the plunge and take the crown that is rightfully his.
Lia Maria is the first daughter of Karis Luran, however her mother sees her positive outlook on the world and her willingness to talk out problems instead of initially going to fight as a weakness and thus named her younger sister as heir. Little does she know that Lia Maria is stronger than them both, she manages to bring the rightful heir of Emberfall to Syhl Shallow and learns a lot about herself on the way. Her willingness to put herself in danger for others and her absolute assurance that she can bring peace to the two kingdoms make her a lovable if not slightly naive POV to follow. She is so different from Harper but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing characters we know and love from her outside eyes.
We get to see a bit more of Jake and Noah in this book also, characters that we get briefly introduced to in the first. Both angry at Grey and blame him for getting them stuck in this world, they follow him with the promise that he will take them home when he gets the chance, but along the way they see the kind of ruler he could be and want to be a part of the change. We also get introduced to a whole host of fresh characters, some of which join Grey and the others on their journey and became fast favourites of mine. One of the only things I wasn’t a fan of character wise was I felt that Harper was portrayed as much more meek in this book than in the first. We don’t really see her standing up to Rhen, even when her friends lives were at stake. However, the book wasn’t told from her perspective so it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment.
The world building in this book was amazing. Not only do we get to see waaay more of Emberfall than we did in the first but we also get an insight into Syhl Shallow, the neighbouring kingdom who tried to invade Emberfall at the end of curse. Kemmerer writes with such a beautiful intricacy that has you jumping into the pages, travelling along with Grey and his crew. The perspectives are easy to jump between being a man and woman, but its not just that that makes the change obvious, they both have completely different voices. Stoic and gentle Grey, puts on a brave face but is filled with turmoil inside and Lia Maria, who comes across as meek and mild while underneath she is filled with a strength she has been told so many times is a weakness… the ability to care.
The romance in this book is beautifully written, it had all the potential to be a disastrous love triangle and I loved how the author stayed as far away from that as possible. Grey isn’t sure he can/deserves love and obviously still harbours some feelings for Harper, however, after journeying with Lia Maria and seeing her inner strength, something she tries to hide he starts to realise that he might be open to the idea. Lia Maria however, notices Grey from the start, but knowing she is not the heir doesn’t dare act on feelings, knowing she is not the prize for a prince. I loved all the will they/wont they, it was slow burn and beautifully developed and I cannot wait to read more of them.
I was expecting a lot more twists and turns in this book, and though there are a few it mainly just expands on the bombs that the author dropped at the end of the first book. The ending however, I definitely did not see that one coming. I had to re-read it to make sure I had it right, and even then I didn’t wholly believe it and it had me screaming at the pages. Kemmerer sure knows how to leave readers wanting more. An easy 5/5 for me. I loved this as much as the first book, if not more and am eagerly anticipating the next instalment.