Broken Reign, the second book in The Odium Trilogy, picks up where Daughter of No One ended and since it’s a trilogy, get ready for an open ending. Whereas I was completely taken aback by the ending of the first instalment, this one arrived more organically. Or maybe I was more prepared. Either way, the element of surprise of book 1 wasn’t as predominant here. While it took me a little time to get back into the atmosphere and the adventure (not the book’s fault, my memory sucks and I had to reacquaint myself with the characters), once I was in I enjoyed it as much as Daughter of No One.
Now that she knows the world is not as she was told growing up in the shelter of the royal palace, Princess Aurelia Diarmaid is determined to make things right and the first step of that journey is to help Jastyn Cipher get the cure to her sister’s mystery illness. Jastyn has painfully embraced the Odium child label she’s been stuck with from birth because of her mother’s unmarried status at the time. Now everything she thought she knew about herself and who her absent father was has been blown away. And her growing feelings for the princess are not helping her confidence… Add the Dark Fae’s threat to the mix and what a journey it is!
I wrote in my review for the previous book that one of the reasons I love YA/NA fantasy is that it’s “full of exciting adventure and the promise of romance. It’s sweet, fresh and hopeful.” It proves true again with Broken Reign. Sam Ledel has created a fascinating and at times terrifying world, filled with elves, sirens, selkies, wood nymphs and many more. As delightfully disorienting as it is, there are, here and there, allusions to power dynamics and political and societal issues of the real world. Nothing emphatic, just enough to make the struggle familiar.
As usual, what matters most to me are the characters and whether their actions and decisions make sense. Jastyn’s lingering inability to tell Aurelia about the “noble sacrifice” needed for the cure could have been excruciatingly annoying but the author manages to make her concerns and distress plausible. As are Aurelia’s growth, her new-found awareness of the world, her willingness to do better. Going on this journey with both young women and their fellow travellers still has this fresh and exciting quality, all the more so as new characters joined the story, some just as intriguing. I am very much looking forward to knowing more about Keeva and Donovan, the mischievous twins from the Kingdom of Uterni, for example. Book 3, The Princess and the Odium, is announced for next spring, so just a little more patience…