Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#Review - Endless Water, Starless Sky by Rosamund Hodge #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire #2
Format: E-Galley, 448 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy

Sabriel meets Romeo & Juliet in this romantic and thrilling sequel to Bright Smoke, Cold Fire—from the author of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound.

In the last days of the world, the walls of Viyara are still falling, and the dead are rising faster than ever. Juliet is trapped—ordered by Lord Ineo of the Mahyanai to sacrifice the remaining members of her family, the Catresou, to stave off the end of the world.

Though they’re certain his plan is useless, Juliet and her former friend Runajo must comply with Lord Ineo’s wishes—unless they can discover a different, darker path to protecting Viyara. Romeo is tortured—finally aware that his true love is alive, he is at once elated and devastated, for his actions led directly to the destruction of her clan.

The only way to redemption is to offer his life to the Catresou to protect them and support them...even if it means dying to do so. When Romeo’s and Juliet’s paths converge once again, only a journey into Death will offer answers, and the key to saving them all—but is it a journey any of them will survive?

"Death will parlay with those who unlock the gate, pass the reapers, and come to meet her."

Endless Water, Starless Sky is the second and apparent finale to author Rosamund Hodge's Bright Smoke, Cold Fire duology. With its heartbreaking and shocking finale, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire left readers wanting more—and anxiously awaiting the release of this conclusion to the series. This is Romeo & Juliet like you’ve never seen it before. This new series reimagines Shakespeare’s story of feuding families and doomed lovers in a city threatened by necromancers and protected by “the Juliet,” a girl born in every generation with powerful magic.
As darkly romantic and epic as ever—Rosamund imbues the classic Shakespeare play with an atmospheric, fantastical mythology. With a dark and treacherous journey into the land of the dead, Endless Water, Starless Sky is perfect for readers who love the epic journeys and immersive world building in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. This is a story that alternates mainly between Romeo Mahyanai, Juliet Catresco, and Runajo Mahyanai, but there are parts for Paris Catresco as well.
Juliet is the one girl in her generation born with incredible fighting skills to punish the enemies of her clan. Over the course of the series, Juliet has put her dangerous combat skills to use, taking down anyone in her path. With Juliet bound to Runajo, she has to do whatever the head of the family wants, including standing by why her own family is annihilated. The necromancer wants to open the gates to the dead and destroy Viyara, the last apparent human city still standing in a world that once again faces ultimate destruction. The story really does spend more time with Juliet than any other character, and I think that's absolutely acceptable. It is Juliet who has to travel to the land of the Dead and face Death herself in what may be the most interesting and twisted part of the entire story.

Meanwhile, Romeo is a fugitive and is also presumed to be dead by Juliet. Romeo chooses to put his loyalty into helping the rival Castresou family stay alive, and rescue those who have already been captured and are now on the brink of being sacrificed. Romeo has no idea that Juliet is the living key that can open the land of the dead and therefore allow the dead to walk freely, but with a twist, he is key to stopping the Ruining from destroying his city and everyone he loves. The dead are refusing to die. They rise again as after 3 days as Revenants; mindless and hungry for the living.
Runajo is a former member of the Sisterhood who was disavowed after saving Juliet from the land of the dead. She now is expected to be Juliet's Guardian and lead her as her family head desires. But, Runajo is also a character who is deeply in love with a girl, who loves a boy, who loves a girl, and therefore must try to help another boy the pair consider part of their family. Runajo spends most of the book searching high and low for answers in how to help her people stay alive, and how to rebuild the wall that is sure to fall regardless of the number of blood sacrifices that are offered.
There are two other characters who stand out besides the three already named: Paris Catresou, and Vai, the girl who must be a boy for her families sake and is the leader of the King of Cats who live in the lower sector. She is also a champion duelist who may even rival Juliet's skills. I mention the two because there has been a connection between them since the previous book. Vai now fights to get Paris back, while also fighting to keep her people alive, while Paris has been controlled by the Necromancer. He should have been Juliet's Guardian, but things went to hell in a hand basket quickly.
With its Shakespearean inspiration, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is dark, gorgeous, and unbreakable. Readers will love seeing this deep and everlasting romance—and the characters who will do anything for each other. Romeo in book 1 was a lovesick fool, and he remains a fool in this book, but he also gains a family, fights for things other than Juliet. Heck, for most of this series, they aren't even together! The ending to me was a bit on the strange side, and I am all for a bit of strange in our lives to unlock the same ole same old that we normally get in the YA Fantasy Genre.

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