Blurb from GoodReads: “A young female assassin must confront the man who slaughtered her family, risk her heart, and come to terms with her identity as a warrior and as a woman in this thrilling fantasy from the author of Markswoman.”
This started stronger than it finished, and I don’t think it was as good as the first book, Markswoman. I think the big issue here is that a lot of those standardized YA Fantasy tropes Mehrotra managed to avoid in book one, had a full throttle, pedal to the medal presence here.
The romance was a huge focus this time around. For the record, I hate complaining that romance exists in a book- because I actually like romance. Claire and Jamie, Edward and Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Darcy, truly, it’s a favorite theme of mine. What I don’t like, is when we spend pages and pages straight up day dreaming of the significant other. That was how this romance often felt. There are barriers to Kyra’s relationship with Rustan, but none of them ever felt all that challenging.
Another one of the things that I loved in Markswoman, was that Kyra never felt like a special snowflake to me in the first book. She made mistakes, she became an outcast, etc. Here special snowflake syndrome is alive and swinging. I can’t say much without spoilers, but every single scene felt like it was dedicated to how special, how much better/braver/stronger/smarter she was then everyone else. I did a lot of eyerolling.
Finally- this novel requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. The relationships between these people were just not believable. Kyra upends centuries of fear and tradition regarding the wyr-wolves for no other reason than that she’s the Mahimata of the Order of Kali. All the elders and other clans just sort of accept her rule. She’s enlisted to lead a significant battle, where the odds are stacked heavily against her, despite never having been in one and only being like 18/19 years old. It just didn’t feel believable.
Despite all this, there were still parts I enjoyed. The introduction of the wyr-wolves was wonderful and probably my favorite part. The overall plot wasn’t bad, even if it was wholly unbelievable and a little generic. There were a lot of great ideas at play, the hall of mirrors, the Sahirus, the hub and transport system. It was also a very quick read- and I tend to be more forgiving of those.
The ending was both abrupt and bizarre. Nothing was really explained. Kyra and Rustan got an ending but literally no one else. This book really needed a conclusion or an epilogue of some sort to make it feel complete. I reviewed an advance copy so it’s entirely possible my copy simply didn’t have it, but I was definitely left wanting more (and not really in a good way).
I know this review overall sounds very negative, but I am giving it three stars. On my scale, three stars could probably be described as “Neither liked it nor didn’t like it” or “Not bad”. If you enjoyed the first book, it’s probably worth reading the second just to see how it all ends. I’ll be curious to see what Mehrotra does now that this duology is complete. Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with an eARC to review.
Mahimata can be purchased on Amazon here.
My review of book one, Markswoman, can be found on GoodReads here, if you are interested.