Morning mortals! Anyone remember way back when I reviewed Ariadnis? Well, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the sequel Anassa and even though my TBR is enormous I had to bump it to the top of my list. This is such a unique setting and a powerful message entwined into a fantasy setting that I couldn’t resist finding out what happens to these characters.
Less than a year since their cities were joined, Athenas and Metis are still arguing. When the island is invaded by Vulcan, whose resource-ravaged, overpopulated island wants to claim Chloris as its own, Etain’s leadership is compromised. The only way she can restore her people’s confidence is to take up Vulcan’s quest to retrieve a magical item from a volcano. Alongside her brother Taurus, Aula and Joomia, Etain sets sail for the volcano. But they soon discover there is more to the quest than they realised.
It’s up to Etain to be the leader she is destined to be. Should she fight, or should she try to unite?
Let’s kick this off with a bit of a content warning. If you cannot cope with descriptions of large numbers of insects and arachnids then definitely give this book a miss. Well, maybe buy it for a friend and then get them to tell you what happens. I say this because I have such a terrible fear of swarms (of anything, the jellyfish scene in Finding Nemo even freaks me out) and even though I persevered for the sake of the story I had a couple of sleepless nights. That said, it is definitely worth it for the sake of this story.
I’ll confess, I had only a vague recollection of the ending of Ariadnis (I read it back in June 2017 after all!) which meant I had to quickly catch myself back up on events in the first fifty pages or so. I’d say this is done pretty well. It’s always a tricky thing to do in a second novel as you need to set the scene but there’s also the need to get right on with the action.
This book is certainly action-packed. From one moment to the next there is always something going on, some new character whose point of view the book follows and new dangers they are facing. The pacing of this book was ideal, there was the perfect number of lulls just to let you catch your breath and get things sorted in your mind.
These characters, they are just a wonderful mix of different personalities. I identified most with Taurus, his struggles with feeling like he had no purpose – as a fairly recent graduate I could definitely feel that displaced emotion coming through. But the other characters such as our struggling leader Etain are all wonderful as well. What I appreciated is that, while there is a wider narrative going on, with world-changing revelations abounding, each character has their own personal story happening alongside that narrative. It’s skilfully done, so the larger and smaller stories connect and never feel as though they are in opposition.
There is trans representation in this book which, from the author’s acknowledgments, appears to have been well researched and personally felt like a good representation of being trans in a fantasy setting. Obviously, I am a cisgender person so please feel free to call me out if you feel otherwise and I’m happy to remember that I’m coming at this from a huge position of privilege.
What stopped me from giving this book five stars? I think it’s because at points things happen that don’t get explained for quite some time. While there aren’t loose ends left over they do dangle for a while and I had to do some rereading of pages to make sure I hadn’t, in fact, missed something.
Should you read this? If you liked Ariadnis I would say this is a strong continuation of the story. I don’t know if there are plans to write more titles in this series, I shall have to keep an eye out!
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? What other sequels are you excited for this year?