Series: The Elementae #2
Published by Bloomsbury Australia on March 4, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus's black market empire to captain her own trading vessel--and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.
But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets--not only that Aspasia is an air Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can’t find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.
Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.
After reading and loving Reign the Earth last year, which focused on female strength against domestic abuse, I was heavily anticipating Imprison the Sky as a follow up. Upon picking it up however, I found it was a very different story to Reign the Earth, both in tone and subject matter – and I definitely preferred the former. It’s more of a companion novel than a direct sequel, so can be read without reading the first.
For a book that primarily focuses on slavery, both participating in slavery and being a slave, I found that the novel only touched upon this heavy subject matter. Aspasia is a slave herself, but she is given a relative freedom by slave trader Cyrus just because she delivers results. She prefers to save women and children from slavery – yet commits men to slavery due to some mysterious moral code that wasn’t really explained that well – yet has a brother that she is looking for who is a male slave. So I didn’t really understand her moral high ground especially when she was conducting acts of slavery. Perhaps she was doing the best with the resources that were given to her, but I found her to be a walking oxymoron.
Up here, I was the master. I was the captain, the commander, I was the keeper of skies. Up here, my brother and my crew beside me, I was powerful.
Cyrus is a pretty straightforward villain who doesn’t let Aspasia forget that she’s under her clutches, yet it doesn’t seem too bad because Aspasia pretty much gets to do what she wants – as long as she captures slaves who are elementae – people with elemental powers. Apparently Cyrus has a huge network of spies and crew working for her, but she doesn’t know about Aspasia’s secrets – that she’s an elementae herself and she prefers to free her slaves. That didn’t really make sense.
The book also heavily focuses on seafaring as most of it is set aboard a ship, with a crew which Aspasia is in charge of. She has the hidden motive of looking for her own family, a younger brother and sister who she lost contact with. As they sail from port to port, we watch Aspasia bonding with her crew, and the charming Kairos who harbours an interesting power.
Imprison the Sky is definitely more character-driven than action-oriented, so it takes the time to build up Aspasia as a character, her confidence when it comes to bargaining and her empathy for her crew. We also find out about the love that she has for her family – both blood-related and the ones that she has taken in as her crew. Part of this is also the romance that is developed over time with Kairos – which I found slightly frustrating due to the amount of page time that entailed. I found myself slightly bored at times because of this. Aspasia is also a bisexual character, and it delves slightly into the past relationships she had both with people from different sexes.
For a book that primarily focuses on slavery, I didn’t really think Imprison the Sky dealt with the subject matter in a well-rounded way, creating conveniences for the main character to operate in relative freedom. The plot was also slow moving and I wasn’t particularly interested in Aspasia’s romance, which seemed to occupy much of the book. If you’re a fan of pirate books set upon the ocean, it would be one to pick up, but unfortunately I found it to be a frustrating read.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review!
Imprison the Sky is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$14.99 or from The Book Depository.