Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - book 2 of duology
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THESE REBEL WAVES*
As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.
Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.
Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?
As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
Yes, I know it’s been a while. I have FINALLY gotten around to writing a review for this book. This delay was entirely deliberate – I wanted the read the book for myself and myself alone the first time. I didn’t want to be mentally taking notes and analysing it. I simply wanted to enjoy it.
Didn’t hurt that I’d have to re-read the book to write the review…
I loved this book, hardly stopping to put it down. The pacing is so good, skipping along on a steamboat from set piece to set piece while still having time for all the characters to have their moments and arcs. The tensions between the factions is exploited, playing into the stakes as Agrid turns the raiders’ disunity to his advantage. That element was so well woven in, the self-fulfilling prophecy set up in the first book from when Lu sees just how fractured her home was.
The three POVs are interlinked this time, as Ben is with Lu and then the Stream Raiders. They have their own story lines but they interweave and spend a lot of time together. I liked this, particularly as the interactions of the three are some of the best moments – Vex and Ben have a great relationship and tangled history as cousins.
Lu’s arc is incredible. You might really dislike what she’s doing and why (I did), but as an arc it’s amazing. Particularly on reading it again, knowing where it ends, I really appreciated that Sara Raasch went there with the arc and has Lu make all those awful choices. They stem so naturally from the mess that has been Lu’s life, used and betrayed by her loved ones.
Ben and Gunnar are a really cute pairing. I didn’t see it coming until Sara Raasch was talking about the inspiration behind it and how one scene in particular is a tribute to one of her favourite couples. However, their chemistry is amazing. It’s a bit like my favourite princess-and-the-guard, except that the power imbalance they’re fighting is way more about Ben’s mental state. It makes the scene above all the more toe-curlingly squeeable. (You will know when you get there. I’m not ruining it.)
I really liked how Vex’s struggle with his identity was mirrored by his fight with shaking sickness. I noticed it more on the second time around, but how badly he’s affected by the disease is a really good physical indicator of his internal state.
The plant-based magic is back! And pushed even further, with rather nasty results. Old favourites from the first book are back – Aerated Blossoms! – and they share the time with new ones, like Mensia.
It’s a brilliant finale, and I’m so sad to leave this world behind.
Read my reviews of other books by Sara Raasch:
Stream Raiders (this series)
- THESE REBEL WAVES (#1)
With Kristen Simmons: