Y’all I was devastated when Theft of Sunlight ended on a cliffhanger, but Alhumdulillah, this conclusion was well worth the wait. My heart is at ease, even if I am trying to figure out how to get the “Blessing” so that I can forget I read the book, and enjoy it all over again for the “first” time. I don’t normally review second books in the series, and this won’t be a typical review, but truly if you have not read Thorn or Theft, what are you waiting for, go get those books and start reading. I don’t know a lot about the publication drama of this fantastic book, but I do know that it was not published in the USA by the same publisher as the first book in the duology, and the thought that we, the readers, could have stepped up the pre-sales and shown our love for the series, the author, and the characters weighs heavy on me. Thankfully, the UK publisher kept the book and the author found a way to get Darkness to us in the US (it publishes later this summer), but truly we have the power to support good, quality stories, and we must actively show it so that they get published, rather than simply complain about what options are made available to us. This is the author’s website: http://booksbyintisar.com/ if you sign up for her newsletters you can get all the bookishly delicious info. She is not asking me to promote her or her books, but I happily share and direct support to her, because her stories really are great, and from what I can fangirl find out about the author, so is she.
The book picks up where Theft leaves off, and manages to remind readers what might have been forgotten in the interim. It had been over a year since I read book one and while I fumbled a little at the beginning, the author caught me up to speed and didn’t let me lose a beat in Rae’s latest and ongoing adventures. It starts with Rae aboard a slavers ship with children bound for a horrible fate. More than just her life is at stake, as the information she has recently discovered implicates palace officials, the Circle of Mages, an heir to the throne and so much corruption. With the help of street thief Bren, Rae gets herself in and out of trouble quicker than most expect. Her clubfoot, sharp brain, and genuine values, force anyone who underestimates Rae to find themselves scrambling to keep up. She has grown to love her body and the strengths that it affords her, and in her actions and dedication to changing the world she becomes a formidable river Pirate Queen that you genuinely care for, cheer on, and hope gets a happy ending.
Yes, if you have read Theft and are wondering why I didn’t mention Princess Alyrra, Red Hawk, the Cormorant, Niya, Stonemare, Artemian, and everyone else, fear not, they are all present, and get their story arcs, I just don’t want to risk a single spoiler. If you’ve waited for this conclusion, you will find yourself desperately dreading the final pages, and wishing the story would never end. The fantasy, action, characters, world building is all incredible and so hard to put down. The author is Muslim, but there is no Islam present in the stories, although hints of desi culture do seem to present in the Sweetening atleast.
The book is YA, but I think 15 and up or so would be a good fit. Like the others in the series, it has magic, murder, killing, lying, thieving, alcohol, corruption, implications of sexual abuse, assault and threat of rape, but this book also has some language, talk of infertility, and some implied banter about marital relations. The romance is very halal and clean, but the violence is graphic as dealing with the implications of murder and slavery are grappled with and thus a thematic element of the story.
Thank you Netgalley UK for the arc, if the book looks interesting and fun for you, please preorder the book wherever you are.