Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review - Riot of Storm and Smoke

Original Title: Riot of Storm and Smoke
Series: Threats of Sky and Sea, #2
Author: Jennifer Ellision
Published: August 17th, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

I liked this book very much. It has action, romance, fantasy worldbuilding, and everything I love about a good story. But, I’m afraid, I felt it lacked something. Let me explain myself.

This book picks up exactly where the previous one left it, right after Kat and Bree’s da’s deaths, and we meet our characters on the run for their lives, from the terrible King Langdon. Bree is still a great character, stranded in the middle between the barmaid and the royal. I love her practicality, her quick wit, and her curt, no-nonsense responses. She’s definitely not perfect, nor a princess, and she’s not to be trifled with. I love her attitude, her spunky manners, and the fact that she’s never a false person, having no qualms about saying what she thinks. I like her as a person, and in this book, I’m glad she could deepen her relationship with her friends and discover her powers as a Water Thrower. But after the first book, I ended up with a lot of questions that, sadly, weren’t answered. The plot centers mainly on the escape from Egria and the king’s clutches, and that’s pretty much all there is. There’s no new hints of Bree’s past, or her da’s, nor about her true parents, or Nereidium… And I really wanted to know more. Also, there’s little to no presence of Elementals in this book, we don’t get to know many new things about them, save Aleta and Tregle’s torching, and that Bree, as a Thrower, is able to breath underwater, because the Elements don’t harm their wielders. Shakers barely appear, and I’m sure they are more powerful than what can be read in the scene with the bandits. And, sadly, neither there’s anything about people like Kat, able to wield two elements at the same time. With that I’m not saying that the book is bad, I speak for myself saying that I would have liked to know all those things.

As I said, with Bree and her friends’ journey, and Caden’s quest to gather a rebel army and defy his father’s tyrannical reign, there’s practically no time to delve into the past, nor into the special characteristics of some places, like Clavins. But neither about the present, apparently, because we get to know characters like Meddie, Clifts and Liam, as a part of the Underground movement to dethrone Langdon, and there’s not even much about it. How many of them are they, what they do, where they are, how they work… It’s a rebellion, after all! I just hope we get to know more about it in the next book.

I liked all the new characters, especially the sisters from Masonstone, Elsbeth, Dorna and Lilia, and mostly Lilia, because she’s a royal, but also a natural warrior, and I felt really bad about what happened to her family, they didn’t deserved that. I also liked that we could know more –if only a little– about Kat, both through her ghost and her twin sister, Elena. And just like in the previous book, I loved Aleta, she’s still that strong, smart, stubborn girl, fit to be a queen, and I want to know more about her, like who her parents are, where she was born, how Kat found her… I like her relationship with Tregle, and I only grew a little tired of her bickering with Meddie, although even they knew when to stop and work together. The way Aleta is and was raised, surely she was going to find something to criticize in someone else’s leadership skills. Only a word on them after they were captured by the bandits and imprisoned: finding them felt a little too… simple? I mean, an overheard conversation revealed they were all together in the same prison, but I think it would have added complexity to their adventure if one of them was already sold as a slave, or something, and the master was a staunch supporter of the king, for example. But I’m not complaining, just stating the fact.

Again, and just like in the previous book, the love story isn’t well developed. I simply can’t see the chemistry between Caden and Bree, I don’t see where that irresistible pull to each other lies, if they barely interact in this book, and all the sudden they can’t live without each other. I, as a reader, just can’t root for a couple I don’t throughout understand. It’s not clear why they like each other, and their attraction doesn’t make much sense, at least for me. I do hope, however, that it gets better in the next book. As for Caden’s part of the story, I felt it lacked a big part that we deserved to know. He manages to escape the battle after the disaster caused by Ruin’s Reaping, but after that, we don’t get to know anything else about him, except the assumption of his death after the letter Liam reads (that I never believed, sorry). And suddenly, a couple of chapters later, he and Lilia appear alive in Clavins, and never say how they made it, or how they escaped after being defeated, and that would have been an interesting story, especially after the vicious attack and the new weapon they faced.

A word on the villain. It’s amazing how, even when King Langdon only has one scene in the entire book, is a constant presence that infuses permanent terror, mostly based on the force of his army. As a reader, I couldn’t help feeling how terrible he is and the lengths he’s ready to reach in the pursuit of his goals. Even when he’s out of the picture, I felt like he was everywhere, and that’s the best way to create a villain, in my opinion: scary, even when he’s not even there. But also as Caden’s father, a man he knew since forever, and now has become this twisted version of himself he needs to overthrow for the sake of his people.

The last part was just awesome, the sea battle was amazing, and it had me at the edge of my seat. Bree could finally let loose her Throwing abilities to save her loved ones and reach Nereidium, and perhaps it is me, that I read too many fantasy stories, but she finally did what it is always needed to wield any kind of power, and that I knew before her: feel it as a part of her, running through her veins, an indivisible part of her essence… Like she is water and water is her. Although as nobody explained that to her, is understandable. As for that cliffhanger in the end, it was mean, and it just makes me need to know more. How Aleta will react, how the people in the island will treat their princess after so many years… It makes me want to read the next book right now. And that’s what I’m going to do, for certain.

So, in short, it was a good book, but it had these moments, like the romance, that I wish, were more developed, and I definitely wanted to know more about the past, to care a little more about the present. It was, however, a really interesting adventure, and I’ll be reading the next installment as soon as I can!


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