Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - book 2 of trilogy
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for RELIC*
Kaylan’s life as she knew it is over. Again.
Hunted by the guards of Edriast and their ruthless captain, Kaylan is forced to flee into a world she’s never seen, armed with a power she never wanted. With her brother Elias by her side, she escapes to the distant city of Stynos, where rumour has it a possible ally is waiting… An ally who might help Kaylan control the violent magic that’s become her burden to bear.
But Kaylan can’t hide forever – not from the forces that surround her, or from the darkness inside herself. Rebel leader Bellamy seeks her help to destroy a regime; Captain Thorn pursues her with a vengeance; and as her power grows, her inner demons begin to seep through the cracks…
Kaylan may be strong, but is she strong enough to resist the Relic?
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is the second time of late I’ve come back to a series (and from the same publisher) several years later and really enjoyed it.
RIVEN (and RELIC) are great examples of YA fantasy that truly feel like they deserve the “dark fantasy” label – it is not an aesthetic here (in fact, that “dark fantasy” aesthetic is nowhere to be found.) The world has a grim premise of these relics killing those around the wielder and how that is used to maintain power at the expense of life. Kaylan loses a lot of people she loves, and spends RIVEN grappling with that alongside the high likelihood that possessing a relic after being around it as a non-possessor is affecting her mentally.
Because of who Kaylan spends more time with in the book, there’s a focus on new relationships and also ones that were in the background of the previous (like her brother Elias) and I really liked that. It let those lesser characters be built up, and also those are the far more complex relationships than the well-explored ones of the second book.
RIVEN also sees Kaylan brush up against the rebellion much more, and have to make choices about how to deal with them or the lords the rebellion opposes. I liked that this book had a decision not often seen as it helped this book feel different to a lot of other books with anti-establishment rebellions.
This book also takes Kaylan to a different city (via a few places) and I do like it when you see more of a world. What helped here too was that the lord of the new city really helped show that there’s a lot more grey in the world in terms of power and relics, after the pretty “it’s bad” view of the first book.
Read my reviews of other books by Bronwyn Eley:
Relic (this series):