Monday, January 20, 2020

The Iron Flower (Black Witch Chronicles #2) - Laurie Forest

Summary: Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: Well! So continues the saga. If you haven’t read the first book, The Black Witch, I don’t think it’s completely necessary, but you’ll wish you had. You can read my review here.

This book was a lot of things the first installment wasn’t. First off, it’s way more in the fantasy genre. Whereas the first one felt Harry Potter-esque in that they were at a magical school and everyone was just discovering their powers, this book goes full-on into the different races of magical beings and addresses more their differences and their backgrounds, including their looks. In a more main-stream book that had magic in it (like the Harry Potter series, which is always my go-to for a good fantasy/magic crossover) races wouldn’t look as different or be as deeply fantastical. At first this was difficult for me, as I’m not a huge reader of high fantasy and am not as completely familiar with all of the vernacular as some. There is definitely a learning curve for someone like me who doesn’t read a lot of high fantasy, whereas someone who does may be more familiar with the terms. Being a YA fic novel, though, these things were well-addressed and I didn’t feel completely lost. By the end I felt pretty well-versed in what was going on, even though the terms weren’t completely familiar at the beginning of the read.

Another thing that this book really leaned into was the romantic element. There was a lot of discussion of “affinity lines” and different character’s “affinity lines” moving towards each other, entwining together, getting all hot and heavy about affinity lines…and because of this, I would say that this book is probably for at least mid to older teens. It would be pretty intense for a young teenager, and although the discussion is always about “affinity lines,” it is heavily nuanced and very suggestive. I’ve read all of the novellas in between these novels, and they definitely have a lot more romantic discussions and goings-on than the main installments of the series. However, that is something that definitely needs to be mentioned.

Things got a lot darker in this book. I liked that, actually, because it upped the stakes. It made for some difficulty in reading about the abuse and injustice going on, but I think this is a good way for readers of this age to experience and witness oppression and those who are willing to fight against it. Although it takes place in a fantastical realm, it definitely has real-world echoes and implications and I think this is a great way to get the youth thinking about these situations.

One complaint that I have about this series so far is I’m really ready for this girl to come into her magic already. I’m not giving anything away here, I don’t think; it’s completely obvious what’s going to happen (or what should happen! Maybe I’m wrong!). It’s happening slowly, everybody in All the Land knows what’s up and yet we’re still waiting. It’s been two books already. C’mon! Let’s do this! I feel like at this point she’s a little clueless. Maybe it would be this way in real life? I don’t think so, though. C’mon girl. Figure this out. Anyway, I’m hoping that I’m rewarded for my patience.

If you’re into fantasy, especially high fantasy (because this is basically that). This book is YA, although many of the themes and content is bordering on New Adult, so I think older teens and adults alike would enjoy it.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There isn’t a lot of language, but there is a lot of sexual innuendo.

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