New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s romantic fantasy series that began with Reign of Shadows continues in this lack-luster, rushed sequel, Rise of Fire, released in North America on February 7th, 2017. You can find my review for the first book in this series, Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan, here.
Luna and Fowler have escaped the kingdom of Relhok, but they haven’t escaped the darkness. When a battle against the dark dwellers mortally injures Fowler, Luna is faced with a choice: put their fate in the hands of mysterious strangers or risk losing Fowler forever. Desperate to keep the one bright part of her life alive, Luna accepts the help of soldiers from a nearby kingdom. Lagonia’s castle offers reprieve from the dangerous outside world—until the King discovers both Fowler and Luna’s true ties to Relhok and their influence over the throne. Now pawns in each kingdom’s political game, Luna and Fowler are more determined than ever to escape and build the life they’ve been dreaming of. But their own pasts have a tight hold on their hearts and their destinies. Luna must embrace the darkness and fire within her before she loses not only Fowler but the power she was destined to inherit.
As I was with Reign of Shadows, I was equally glad that I waited to read Rise of Fire – while this book necessarily wasn’t bad, it was definitely lack luster and almost certainly far too rushed. Now, the premise sounded interesting enough, but unfortunately, Jordan simply failed to deliver – again. Nothing about this book was necessarily bad, it just wasn’t good.
The plot was a rushed disaster, shifting from one scene to another so quickly that if this was a movie, I probably would have gotten whiplash just trying to keep up. There’s absolutely no detail put into the story – simply stated action, then consequence, then an immediate reprisal of some new action or disaster that Luna and Fowler (unrealistically) manage to get themselves out of. And when I say unrealistically, I am not exaggerating – their escapes and luck verge on the side of complete fiction and lunacy, even within a fantasy setting. And, once again, generally speaking, there was no real climax, and at the end of the book, I just felt like I had missed something – like there ought to be more. But there wasn’t. Overall, the story and the scatter-brained plot just felt somewhat childish and were definitely poorly delivered.
Luna and Fowler’s relationship also continued to feel forced and somewhat contrived. The reader could predict, without even finishing these novels, that the two would be forced into a relationship by the author, despite their vast differences and the destruction of a country, a people and one’s parents between them. When Luna was presented with an alternative partner in this book, I actually found myself rooting for him over Fowler – that’s how much a detest their relationship.
Overall, this book just wasn’t good. At best, it’s far too juvenile to be considered YA Fantasy – with the removal of any explicit intimacy, this book would easily be at home in the Young Readers section of your local bookstore – and it would be better suited to that genre. But because Jordan forced the YA label on it by including certain elements, its shortfalls for the genre are glaringly evident, and resulted in a sub-par book (1/5).