In this nail-biting sequel to Tehlor Kay Mejia’s critically acclaimed fantasy novel We Set the Dark on Fire, La Voz operative Carmen is forced to choose between the girl she loves and the success of the rebellion she’s devoted her life to.
Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.
Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers, taken in when she was an orphaned child and trained to be a cunning spy. She spent years undercover at the Medio School for Girls, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.
There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?
Warnings: homophobia, gun violence, attempted sexual assault
While the first book was from Dani’s PoV, We Unleash the Merciless Storm brings us the story from Carmen’s eyes. Her cover being blown, she returns to La Voz headquaters with a heart full of longing for Dani and having to hide it because loyalty to the cause above all else is expected for her. Also, due to the bombing at the end of the previous book, the heat on La Voz is on, and the Garcias are primed for revenge. Mateo is bound to retaliate with more force, and since they have lost their spy on the inside, Carmen, La Voz is looking to Dani for information, which is difficult since she has been out of communication since Carmen left her at the end of book 1.
Carmen’s Pov comes with her heart divided over going back to save Dani, and choosing to be the faithful La Voz soldier. Having been trained for years in the art of subterfuge, she pretends to the rebels that her relationship with Dani was just for the mission, but a new element close to the head of the La Voz spells trouble for Carmen. Having always trusted the leader, who she looks up to like a father, she is surprised that La Voz’s tactics have changed and are being influenced by said element. No longer sure of her place, she seeks to gain more information, while also being scared that Dani wouldn’t want her anymore; there’s also the fear that La Voz might think Dani has turned and choose to eliminate her, so Carmen is walking a tightrope between being an advocate for Dani but also not letting her feelings for her show.
The story takes Carmen back and forth between the rebels and the inner island. Through it all, we also see glimpses of the life led by other people in the country, and the different faces of rebellion. She is fortified by the way these people live their lives and also hope for a better future. Her happily ever after with Dani also is an ideal she is working towards, and I loved the progression of their relationship in this book, too. Carmen’s heart-eyes over Dani made my heart swell, and the moments between them were a fangirl’s dream! The emotions that the story as a whole evoked wrecked me, I tell you.
Perhaps the only thing I felt a bit unsure about was the ending battle – it made sense in a way, but I also don’t think Mateo would have come himself to get his hands dirty when he was saddled with leadership responsibilities. I also thought the fight would be quite different, but that was a me thing and not on the book. The aftermath was a bit more believable, and for a duology, I found it was satisfactory as an ending. Also, this was a fast-paced read – I read it pretty much in one sitting, as it was THAT engaging!
Is it diverse? lesbian Latinx (ownvoices) protagonist, sapphic romance, Latinx cast of characters and setting; secondary queer characters
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Katherine Tegen Books, via Edelweiss.
Previous book in the We Set the Dark on Fire duology
Releases on February 25, 2020