It has taken me a while to get to this book. Mostly because I really enjoyed the first novel and I was apprehensive as to whether I would like the second book. There’s this thing I like to refer to as “Second-Book Syndrome”; the second book in a series sucks in comparison to the first. I was worried that that would happen and so, I hesitated. But I finally got to reading it, so here is my review:
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt them as they flee Serra and go on a dangerous journey through the heart of the Empire. Laia is determined to free her brother from Kauf, the most secure prison in the empire. And Elias is determined to help Laia, even if it means he loses his freedom. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
So…. this novel didn’t meet my expectations. I don’t know, maybe I set them too high? I really really liked the first novel, with its interesting Ancient Rome aspects and the dual storyline with Elias and Laia. In this one, however, the story plot was lacking. The story continued to be told in multiple perspectives but it started to get repetitive when it came to Laia and Elias because they were both together and going through the same thing. I really hated the fact that Elias had to go through so many issues in the novel; he literally never got a break. And Laia was super selfish. There was a love triangle and it made me feel really annoyed and upset, especially because it made the real “love” seem so fake. I really liked seeing Helen have her own perspective, because she was a character I had always been interested in and she was going through her own issues. Overall, the story was fast-paced but seemed to sacrifice on plot and character development because of this. I was quite disappointed with this novel and am probably going to have to give the rest of this series a pass.