Thursday, July 11, 2019

#Review - Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett #YALIT / #Fantasy

Series: Rime Chronicles #2
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

From acclaimed author Mindee Arnett comes the thrilling conclusion of the stunningly epic, action-packed, and romantic fantasy adventure about a powerful girl possessed of strange magic, the outcast prince she loves, and the kingdom that has torn them apart.

Kate and Corwin are on the run, desperate for allies in a new world of war among the kingdoms of Rime. As the book opens, Kate suffers a massive loss, one that will shape the struggle for freedom of all wilders and magic folk—that is, if Kate can learn to control her own power

Shadow & Flame is the final installment in author Mindee Arnett's Rime Chronicles. The story picks up around 6 months after the ending of Onyx and Ivory. Shadow & Flame is told in the POV of both Kate Brighton and Corwin Tormane, High Prince of Rime who has been labeled as a traitor. However, Kate and Corwin get separated in the beginning of the story after so many shocking things go wrong, and spend most of it apart trying to deal with their own personal.

After the heart racing prologue, the story jumps ahead 1 year. Kate is part of The Rising and called the Wilder Queen thanks to her actions in taking over Farhold. She wears flame tattoos to honor those she lost, including one for Corwin and Bonner who she believes was lost in a mission to Seva. The same Seva which has been trying to conquer Rime using wilders who were kidnapped from Rime. Kate has no idea that Corwin is really alive and being groomed to be a pawn in Rendborne's much larger and more deadlier game. 

Kate, unfortunately, has a chip on her shoulder a mile wide. Which, considering how she is treated by others, and what happens in the prologue, makes some sense. She makes some silly mistakes based on emotions leading to her friends ending up in dire circumstances. Kate has a remarkable ability, but sometimes that ability is used on the wrong people even though it's in an attempt to save their lives. When you take away someone's free will, you are stepping over the line from what makes you a hero to a villain.

While Corwin is facing some twisted plots, and manipulations, including having to marry someone he has no emotional connection with, his brother Edwin has declared himself to be King of Rime even though the uror challenge hasn't been satisfied. When Corwin and his new entourage, including the King of Seva, and Rendborne arrive in Rima, things get interesting to say the least. Even after everything Edwin did to him, and how he was treated, I think it's fair to say that events transpire that I won't spoil that makes Corwin believe that he can be a better king than his brother.

Inevitably, people are going to be sad by some of the consequences of this story. Some people will like the fact that the romance was basically subtle if non-existent for most of the story. The foreshadowing from the first book to the finale of this book was clear now that I've read this book. All the loose ends are tied up nicely and the ending is so satisfying. I am glad that the ending of this series wasn't dragged out for one more book to leave reading hanging off a cliff wanting to know if Corwin and Kate will have a happy ending or a brutal denial of a happy ending thanks to a garden variety of villains.

Onyx & Ivory and Shadow & Flame are everything you want from a big-book YA series: an impeccably built world, an epic storyline with dual protagonists, pulse-pounding action, compelling adventure, court intrigue, and breathless romance. Kate, Corwin, Bonner, Signe, and Dal learn things they never knew about themselves, their choices and the consequences that come with those choices. Each of these characters go through hell. And I mean literal hell.

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