I probably wouldn’t have read this second book if it wasn’t for Kathy’s championing of this series. Because although I liked “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” well enough, and despite the fact that I told myself I’d read the other books in the series, they were so far down my TBR list that I knew I’d probably never actually get to them. But, well, this is where it pays off to have bookish friends to recommend books to you, because this second book was worth the read in a way that few YA trilogies are for me.
She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.
Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.
To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.
If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.
Elisa is just so likeable in this book. In the first book, she had a loooong way to go in terms of character growth, but in this book, while she’s still learning and getting more confident, she’s strong and smart and kind in a way that I really admired. It honestly surprised me how much more I liked Elisa in this book. Usually the second book is where I get annoyed with the main character, but not in “The Crown of Embers.”
I also liked that the plot for the second book is well-developed and well-paced in its own right. So many second books in YA trilogies are overly dependent on the third book—like, the first book is where the bulk of the story is, and the third is where the resolution is, but the second tends to just be filler, biding time until the third book. But “The Crown of Embers,” while still continuing the plot from the first book and setting up for events in the third, manages to have its own unique and satisfying plot.
Also, Hector shaves off the creepy mustache! I cannot even begin to tell you how relieved I was. And the romance plotline develops at a believable but gratifying pace, without having to resort to a love triangle. This makes me very happy.
Overall, a strong second book that pushed the overarching trilogy storyline forward while still managing to have a plot of its own. I’ve already picked up the third book, “The Bitter Kingdom,” so I’m looking forward to finding out how it all wraps up.
Rating: 4 / 5