Jennifer Estep’s newest books, the Black Blade series, had a pretty great start in Cold Burn of Magic. I was anxious to see what would happen in the second book. I have to admit I was a little disappointed because the hardcore warrior girl from CBOM is definitely losing her edge as she becomes attached to people. It still makes for a decent YA urban fantasy, and this one includes some pretty intense competition, but I think the target audience will enjoy it more than adult readers of YA.
Something Wicked This Way Comes . . .
As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight–or the danger.
Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win–no matter who they hurt.
As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…
I enjoyed the second installment in this series, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first. I think that is in part because this story felt younger in terms of themes and concerns. A lot of time was spent dealing with the various romances thwarted by family and personal loyalties when I just wanted threat and battle. Lila also seems a lot less independent now that she has been taken in by the Sinclair family, so she feels more like an average teen than the street smart loner we started with. There are pros and cons to that, and I understand it is part of her character’s growth, but I honestly preferred the tougher, edgier Lila. Not everyone will feel the same way, though, and plenty of readers will be excited to watch the relationship between Lila and Devon evolve as she becomes less standoffish. This book does also provide some new revelations about Lila’s mother and her past, and I thought that added a few great complications that kept the story fresh. Some readers will find the pacing is slower than expected (presumably because it is setting up situations for the next book) and some will be disappointed at the ease with which they spot the bad guy. Neither of those were barriers to my enjoyment. I look forward to where this series goes with the next book. I think this will be more appealing to the target audience than to adult readers of YA simply because the drama and romance will be more engaging to that demographic. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.