Second Hand Pages

An ‘Of Ice and Shadows’ Book Review

*taps the mic* Is this thing on? CAN I SCREAM MY EXCITEMENT FROM THE ROOFTOPS?! Finally, FINALLY – we get to see our fierce and beautiful princesses again! I feel like we’ve been waiting for this sequel for years, and the joyful tears have begun!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format/Source: PHYSICAL ARC
Goodreads, Indiebound, Amazon

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.
But just after Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: She must quickly broker an alliance with the Zumordan queen to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms—it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers to teach Denna herself, and both girls know it would be dangerous to refuse.
As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare does her best to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. Her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grows, and so too do her suspicions about the queen’s intentions. With rising tensions and unexpected betrayals putting Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerging on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

The Book Dragon breaks down….

…the characters…

I’m going to start out by saying — WHAT THE HELL MARE?! Mare’s point of view on so many things infuriated me, and I ADORE Mare. I was really disappointed in so many of her actions and thoughts during the first half of this book. It really made me second guess Mare’s intentions and her actual desire to stick to her promise made to Denna. This was probably the most heartbreaking portion of the book for me. It showcased a real life struggle of what someone has to go through when faced with the one they love and a conflict of core beliefs.

The secondary characters in OIAS really shined MUCH brighter than the secondary character in OFAS. The supporting cast did everything they should and more. The first book, though AMAZING, really didn’t allow the secondary characters much personality and connection, outside of Mare’s Uncle. This novel dove head first into these characters. Where as so much of OFAS was Mare and Denna, we now have them split apart, and forced to interact with the others around them. There are far too many characters that I enjoyed to list, but among my top 5 were Faye, Harlan, Alek, and Queen Invasya. These characters were complex and intriguing in a way that I don’t typically find secondary casts to be. Of course, our beautifully brilliant Zumordian Queen is Ina from Ink Mistress, so that is a large reason Ina is such an awesome character for me.

The “villians” in OIAS are plenty and delicious. Ikrie is probably one of my favorites. I feel like she’s the most realistic villain. We all knew someone that wanted to be the best, one upped, took dangerous chances just to prove they were the best, no matter the actual consequences. Ikrie shows more than once that even if Denna COULD help her succeed, she will not accept that help, making her more unpredictable than some of the other villains. I can’t really say who the rest of my favorites are without giving away more, but let’s just say — they are AWESOME! 😀

Also, the death in this book made me legitimately cry, and audibly gasp.

…the plot…

The plot twists were a plenty. I thoroughly enjoyed the build up throughout the novel. While it was a slower paced novel, there were times that references were made, or plot twists revealed in such ways that if you weren’t paying attention, you could miss them. While some don’t care for those kinds of set ups – I LOVE THEM. I feel like they ensure that we are actually processing and grasping the story. Foreshadowing and twist drops are my favorite and OIAS was full of them! The political plot, as well as the self discovery journey that both women must walk alone.

…final thoughts…

I have seen some complaints about how this novel did not have enough Mare/Denna interactions. I understand where that critique comes from, but I felt like this novel was a cumulation of both Ink Mistress and Of Fire and Stars. It wasn’t a story SOLELY about Denna and Mare, nor was it a sequel ONLY to Ink Mistress. I felt like this was a lovechild of both, even though it is technically a sequel to OFAS.

TL;DR

Forget about your preconceived notions of what kind of sequel this is. Coulthurst has delivered a brilliantly complex political and page turning plot – woven with magic, betrayal, romance and one mind blowing references and twists after another. The supporting cast did everything they should and more, making it a story about people, relationships, and how far you will truly go for the ones that you love the most. I highly recommend that everyone read ALL 3 of these fantastic books, but you could easily enjoy OIAS on its own as well! If you haven’t read Of Fire and Stars, check out my review of that novel for some non spoilery goodness! My final rating for Of Ice and SHadows is a stunning 5/5 Stars!

About the Author:

Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, was published on November 22, 2016 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.
Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University, is a member of SCBWI, and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

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