[E-ARC] In Dire Need of Reform: Stormsong by C.L. Polk

Stormsong

Title: Stormsong
Series: The Kingston Cycle (Book#2)
Author: C.L. Polk
Publication Date: 11 February, 2020
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Links: Goodreads|Amazon

Synopsis:

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Review:

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books!

Warning: May contain spoilers 

Stormsong is the sequel to Witchmark which is a book I really enjoyed last year. In the first book, Grace’s brother Miles, a war veteran and doctor was the protagonist and together they uncovered the dark secret that their father and many members of the upper class have hidden from them and the public. In this book, those secrets are starting to come out and Grace is at the center of it all.

From the get-go, you really see how much more privileged Grace was compared to Miles even after the events of the first book. You also see how her privileged colored her perception of the world around her and how she reacts to the events happening around her. This privilege also affected how she interacted with the other characters and I liked how she gets called out on it. In the beginning, she kind of grated on my nerves because I keep getting reminded that ultimately, she’s part of this oppressive system and participates in it. I did like how her character developed throughout the course of the book and how she changes as she starts to see things more clearly.

Stormsong sometimes felt a lot like the lull in a storm, a calm before disaster strikes. In a way, that’s kind of what’s happening here because it feels like it’s constantly on the brink of something big happening and this book is about the events before that happens. Something that’s foundational before truly big events start to happen and the country is engulfed in political fallout and a possible revolution. Speaking of which, Stormsong is a very politics-heavy book, even moreso than Witchmark which is understandable because Grace becomes an important political figure in this one. Here, she navigates the political climate of Aeland and tries to bridge the gap between her countrymen and the Amaranthines who could potentially bring disaster to her nation.

Like in the last book, there’s also a murder mystery subplot to be solved in Stormsong, this time involving the death of a diplomat who could tell them about a curse cast by their enemy country. Unlike the last one, this isn’t a huge focal point and it does get resolved rather quickly.

As with Witchmark, there’s also a romance element in this book, although not quite as heavy in Witchmark. This time, the focus is on a f/f romance as Grace falls in love with Avia, a journalist who is threatening to expose secrets which may destroy them. I really enjoyed how their relationship developed as they really were very at odds with each other on a political level. It’s like personally, they do get along very well so they aren’t enemies, but they did have very different perspectives at first. For one thing, Avia was also born into a position of privilege but unlike Grace, she was cast down from her lofty perch which helped her to see how the less privileged live and how oppressed poor witches were.

The relationship between Grace and Avia becomes pretty important in this book because Avia really helps Grace see that while she acknowledges that their society was wrong, the way she goes about with how she wants things to change was also wrong. At first, Grace was resistant to the idea of radical change but she does grow to embrace it as it becomes clearer that it’s what they need in order to save their country. I liked the progression in how Grace’s character changes because it does feel natural and realistic.

Overall, I enjoyed Stormsong and it’s blend of fantasy, political intrigue, and romance. I highly recommend reading this series.

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