Author: M.A. Carrick
My rating: 4.7 out of 5
Series: Rook & Rose #2
When Ren planned to con her way into a noble family, her goal was to walk away rich and powerful. She certainly hadn’t planned to become involved with freedom fighters, vigilantes, stuck in noble parties, or caring about new fake relatives. With each mask she puts on, her original goals and dreams fall further and further away, only for new problems to take their places.
It was nice to return to this world. I’d forgotten how immersive it was. There’s a really good recap right at the beginning, which nicely summarized all the main points that took place in the first book. It was a good memory jog, and I needed it.
As before, Ren walks a tightrope between her identities, but now has the Black Rose as a new complication. Yet, it also brings her another role to play, one in line with the Rook’s. Now that we, the reader, know the Rook’s identity while Ren doesn’t, there’s an extra layer of secrets to juggle. I was constantly in awe at how the author managed to keep the multiple layers of identities and secrets from intersecting until the plot directed them to. Sure, there were hints throughout, but the plot was very intricately woven between them all.
I enjoyed certain characters’ arcs here, particularly Vargo’s. He ended off in a really bad light in the first book. I was happy with the way he was portrayed in this book. Still the big bad crime lord, but with some layers of secrets himself. Not to mention those of his spider companion who becomes much more interesting in this book.
The pacing felt slightly faster than the first book did. It’s still a long immersive journey, but events moved a bit quicker now that most of the focus on the characters and setting were beyond the initial introductions and plot setup.
I really enjoyed the plot here, except for one part where an idiot had a choice between saving many people at the cost of one person’s life, and they chose emotions over logic. I hate such moments in books and movies. Obviously, there’s always going to be a happy ending no matter what, but real life doesn’t turn out so neatly. For once, I’d like to read a book where they make the right choice – save the many at the cost of one person’s life. So what if they can’t enjoy life afterwards? Is their short term happiness really so important? Everything else about the plot, and world building, and character arcs was so good here. I wish they hadn’t ruined it with that moment.
Technically, they could’ve ended the series at that moment if they’d played their cards right, but clearly they wanted a third book, so even though this book ends off on a nice (slightly sappy) note, they still need to destroy the evil magic ruining their city, so onwards to book three. Given this series’ track record, I’m hoping for some more good plot twists and luscious character secrets.