Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Australia on January 7, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy
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Harper has freed Pronce Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. Bit all is not well in Emberfall: rumours are rife thatthete is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that 'Princess' Harper of Disi is nothing but fraud.
Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey's allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted.
I’m so glad I finally read this one after hearing mixed reviews initially! It does flip everything that we know on its head, as it mainly follows Grey, the Guard Captain and Lia Mara, an older princess from Syhl Shallow. While I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t going to see much of Harper (and consequently, Rhen), Gray was my favourite from the first book, so I was delighted that this book was about his journey.
There’s a healthy dose of feminism in this one, along with a wonderful sibling relationship as Lia Mara and her younger sister, Nolla Verin support each other. Although they’re technically an enemy to Emberfall, I found them to be quite reasonable and charismatic as rulers in their own right (although the same can’t be said for their harsh and cruel mother, the Queen). It turns the competitive/left out royals trope around as the sisters love and care for each other. Even when a potential love triangle arises, which usually causes potential for conflict, it still all runs surprisingly smoothly.
“Ah yes, the most dangerous person at the party is always the girl sitting alone with a book.”
In AHSFAB, we discover more about the wider kingdom outside of Emberfall and the general feelings towards their current rulers. I really liked hearing more about Syhl Shallow, and seeing the tender bond play out between Grey and his companions, Tycho and the creature Iisak. There was a lot of fun banter but also some darker moments of torture, danger and violence.
Although Rhen dominated a lot of the first book, he’s the antagonist in this one, and I just found myself hating his character and what he stood for. It’s interesting to see how quickly the tides change, from rooting for Rhen and Harper to now wanting Grey and the sisters to succeed in their rule.
“Choices are never easy. There are good and bad options, but the most dangerous is to not make any choice at all.”
Most of all, I adored the growing bond between Grey and Lia Mara, as they travel together to seek refuge from Rhen’s violence. We saw Grey’s tender affection and chivalry for Harper in the first book, but here he meets his match which is even better for him.
AHSFAB will throw everything from the first book onto its side as characters that we have known won’t be who we thought they were – and we learn about the “enemy” kingdom and even begin to emphasise with them. With new characters, a healthy dose of feminism and a beloved Guard Captain with a fantastic fate, I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy!
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