ARC Review: Rise of Fire

Rise of FireRise of Fire by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Luna and Fowler have escaped the kingdom of Relhok, but they haven’t escaped the darkness. When a battle against the dark dwellers mortally injures Fowler, Luna is faced with a choice: put their fate in the hands of mysterious strangers or risk losing Fowler forever.

Desperate to keep the one bright part of her life alive, Luna accepts the help of soldiers from a nearby kingdom. Lagonia’s castle offers reprieve from the dangerous outside world—until the king discovers both Fowler’s and Luna’s true ties to Relhok and their influence over the throne.

Now pawns in each kingdom’s political game, Luna and Fowler are more determined than ever to escape and build the life they’ve been dreaming of. But their own pasts have a tight hold on their hearts and their destinies. Luna must embrace the darkness and fire within her before she loses not only Fowler, but the power she was destined to inherit.

The best thing I liked about Reign of Shadows is that it had this post-apocalyptic fantasy world where there has been a constant solar eclipse for 17 years and our protagonist Luna is visually impaired, and for whom it does not make a difference – she has grown up in darkness, and her other senses are much stronger, making her as able as any other sighted person. In the previous book, she set out for adventure (well she was on the run looking for a safe haven) and she proves that she is not helpless. She can take care of herself but also save others. She is the lost queen of her kingdom and the usurper is out to extinguish any trace of her. And the person she falls in love with, he too is on the run from the same man. Now the last book had ended on a cliffhanger, with Fowler taken by the dwellers (a species of homicidal beasts) and she jumps in to rescue him.

In this book, she manages to save him, but since his attack he has been poisoned and to keep him alive, she agrees to accept the help of their neighboring kingdom. Until this point, the story has the same tone and pace as the former. But once it comes to the castle, the story gets a tad boring. There is barely any court intrigue, and we instead have an arrogant king trying to dictate her life and making marriage arrangements of his own choice. During all this, she manages to keep her lack of vision a secret, but the prince (who is skeevy-charming) finds out. And I pretty much lost interest with those royal siblings trying to get a claim on their respective counterparts between Luna and Fowler. The ending is rushed, and barely explained – so much of that buildup could have been done during the middle of the book but no, we have sneaking around and professions of love. *eyeroll* It reminded me of why I hate predominantly romance-based books, which this duology did not seem to be at the start. And all those interesting threads and questions I had at the end of the former book – like the origin of the eclipse, the whole existence of treacherous life forms, Luna’s connection, the Oracle – some of them are barely wrapped up in an epilogue (!) of all things, and others aren’t even brought up. The only saving grace was that the author did not (thankfully) ‘cure’ her condition. But, it felt like the series was incomplete and there are things to come but I know for a fact that this is a duology so this ending has disappointed me immensely. I can’t even say that the good writing and semi-decent plot could make up for the lack of consistent world-building or the change of the entire tone of the series. Just not the sequel I was waiting for.

Received a review copy from Harper Collins, via Edelweiss.

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