Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: Fantasy / Urban
Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, the second novel of the Streets of Maradaine series follows the Rynax brothers’ crew of outlaws as they attempt their biggest heist yet and restore justice to the common people.
The neighborhood of North Seleth has suffered—and not just the Holver Alley Fire. Poverty and marginalization are forcing people out of the neighborhood, and violence on the streets is getting worse. Only the Rynax brothers—Asti and Verci—and their Holver Alley Crew are fighting for the common people. They’ve taken care of the people who actually burned down Holver Alley, but they’re still looking for the moneyed interests behind the fire.
The trail of breadcrumbs leads the crew to Lord Henterman, and they plan to infiltrate the noble’s house on the other side of the city. While the crew tries to penetrate the heart of the house, the worst elements of North Seleth seem to be uniting under a mysterious new leader. With the crew’s attention divided, Asti discovers that the secrets behind the fire, including ones from his past, might be found in Lady Henterman’s wardrobe.
Story Locale: Fantasy world
Series Overview: A gritty-yet-epic series of fantasy novels set in Maradaine—a city where you only survive as long as you can fight with wit, will, and magic.
Lady Henterman's Wardrobe, by author Marshall Ryan Maresca, is the second installment in the Streets of Maradine series. This is actually the third series from Maresca and they are all set in the same fantasy world known as the Archduchy of Maradine. The others are Maradine and The Maradine Constabulary. A fourth series called the Maradine Elite, featuring an entirely new cast of characters, will be releasing in the fall of 2018. One of the key selling points is that eventually, all three series will crossover.
That's a good thing since there is so much that has been happening to the Rynax brothers, Asti and Verci, and their crew known as the Holver Alley Crew since the beginning of this series. Having been burned out of their homes, the brothers, along with a few others like Helene Kesser, Kennith, Julian, and Mila Kendish make up the backbone of the Holver Alley Crew. There are others, but I chose to keep the cast of characters to a minimum. While sitting on a small fortune from their brilliance in the first installment, Asti and the HAC continue to plot revenge on those who did nothing while their neighborhood burned down.
In the opening sequence, the crews goal is to enter a secure office building and gain access to files that will reveal the other players in this political machination. Unfortunately for one of the characters, things don't go as well as he thought and he spends much of the story in the background, except in key storylines. Asti's past also comes back to haunt him and in a huge way. I don't want to spoil the name of the character who really did Asti wrong. So wrong, that Asti has rage in his mind, and he often loses himself when danger is happening around him.
The author uses a variation of characters, like Mila, to tell his story. Mila has really grown up as a character. She genuinely cares for the boys that are under her protection. To add even more of a rush to the story, someone is buying up the buildings that were burnt down, and sending groups of thugs into the streets in order to push the residents into paying money for protection. There is also an internal challenge in the form of Verci's wife who really wants out. Her drive and determination to go legit will definitely have bearings on what happens next.
On the plus side, there is plenty of betrayal, twists, turns, action, suspense, and mystery to keep even the most finicky reader happy from cover to cover. There are several things that bothered me about the story. Without spoilers. The villain. When a villain is defeated, I want them gone. Forever. I don't want them suddenly reappearing in future installments, or in another series causing problems that should have been taken care of in this story. Especially this villain who did so much wrong to Asti. Asti needs his revenge and should have been given the chance for redemption. That leads me to the ending. So much happens in this story that I've only scraped the top of mentioning key storylines. The fact that the next book doesn't come out until 2020, is disheartening. Too much can happen between now and then to get my hopes up of actually reading book # 3.