You ever have those books you put off reading just because you know you’ll adore them so much and you don’t want the anticipation to be over? That was this book for me. I had it two weeks before I read it, and I thought about reading it every day but held off because I wanted to wait for a weekend where I could curl up with it and not have to put it down for anything. And this book didn’t let me down at all. Seriously, the fact that this book is by Melina Marchetta should tell you everything you need to know about this book. Aka, that it is so. freaking. GOOD. Gah! I can’t even really express how much I loved this book.
Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.
And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
I honestly can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about Froi of the Exiles. The characters, the setting, the conflict . . . it’s all done in that Melina Marchetta way that puts other authors to shame. She somehow always manages to write these gut-wrenching emotional rollercoasters that have you doing just the right amount of crying and laughing, and by the time it’s over, you just want to clutch the book to your chest and growl at anyone who tries to take it away from you (but maybe that’s just me).
The characters in this book are so outstanding. You get to spend time with all the people you fell in love with in the first book, Finnikin of the Rock, but you get to meet other characters that steal your heart away as well. Froi and Quintana took a little while to grow on me, but by the time the book ended I was so ridiculously invested in them. Froi has a temper and he frequently acts like the 17-year-old he is, but he’s also strong and kind and loyal beyond belief. Quintana took even more getting to know than Froi, but considering all she’s been through, she deserves to be closed off and crazy. And by the end of the book, as she begins to open up a little and you see the real her, you just know she’s going to end up being unstoppable. And then there’s all the secondary characters, like Phaedra, Gargarin, Lirah, and Arjuro—they’re just so ridiculously layered and interesting.
And Marchetta conquers creating a convincing fantasy world. There’s nothing superficial about it. There’s personal, political, and economic conflict and tension, and it’s all so believable and well-planned. And despite all the heartbreaking atrocities, they don’t stand in the way of the breathtaking moments of human kindness.
I could literally go on for, like, 10 more paragraphs about why I loved this book, but I’ll refrain. Basically, I can’t recommend this book and its predecessor enough. Or any book by Melina Marchetta for that matter. I think I’d especially recommend this book to anyone who likes Sharing Shinn’s Twelve Houses series. The last book in the series, Quintana of Charyrn, comes out in September (at least with its Australian publisher), and I. Can’t. Wait.
Rating: 5 / 5