Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday #Review - Julia Defiant by @ByCatherineEgan #YALit #Fantasy @AAKnopf

Series: Witch's Child # 2
Format: E-Galley, 464 pages
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Julia and a mismatched band of revolutionaries, scholars, and thieves have crossed the world searching for a witch. But for all the miles traveled, they are no closer to finding Ko Dan. No closer to undoing the terrible spell he cast that bound an ancient magic to the life of a small child. Casimir wants that magic will happily kill Theo to extract it and every moment they hunt for Ko Dan, Casimir s assassins are hunting them. 
Julia can deal with danger. The thing that truly scares her lies within. Her strange ability to vanish to a place just out of sight has grown: she can now disappear so completely that it s like stepping into another world. It s a fiery, hellish world, filled with creatures who seem to recognize her and count her as one of their own. 
So . . . is Julia a girl with a monster lurking inside her? Or a monster wearing the disguise of a girl?
If she can use her monstrous power to save Theo, does it matter?

Julia Defiant is the second installment in author Catherine Egan's Witch's Child series. 16-year old Julia is an orphan who found a home among a group of criminals (Esme, Gregor, Csilla, and her own brother Benedek) after her mother was drowned in the Cleansing for being a witch. Julia and friends live in a fictitious country known as Frayne, where hunting down and drowning those suspected of practicing witchcraft is as normal as breathing. After all, if you can't burn a witch, why not drown them? 

In this story, Julia and her gang of misfits, which now includes Professor Baranyi, Mrs. Och, Frederick, Bianka, Wyn, and Theo, travel to Yongguo where the search for a man known as Ko Dan continues. Ko Dan worked a terrible spell that ended up putting part of the Book of Disruption into Theo. The book is the first written magic, and the origin of magic in the world. Something that Casimir would burn the world to the ground in order to have. 

Julia has an unusual ability. She can step into another place and disappear. This makes her the perfect spy since nobody can see her. The twist becomes where did she get this ability? Can Julia save Theo who is being hunted across the world, or will Casimir and his pet assassin Pia win when all is said and done? Also, one has to be curious and weary of who Julia really trusts in this book. There are so many twists, surprises, and down right what the hell just happen moments that keep the book flowing smoothly from page to page.

Tianshi, the capital of Yongguo, reminds me a bit of Peking in the early 19th century. There is the Heavenly City, the Imperial Gardens, and a secretive library hidden deep in the mountains. The country is run by the Empress Dowager, and Si Tan, who shows too much interest in Julia, and what she is able to do. I am curious as to Pia's intentions as well. While she came across as the ultimate villain in the previous installment, I don't think we've dug deeper into what her plans really are, and why she is drawn to helping Julia. Could she be the one ally that Julia needs to survive? 

In the end, Julia Defiant exceeded my expectations. It was much more entertaining and devious than the first book. I do look forward to book # 3 which is currently untitled while also releasing in 2018. 

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