Dividing Eden #2
EDEN CONQUERED by Joelle Charbonneau is the second book in a duology about royal twins competing for the throne. When their father and brother are ruthlessly killed, both Carys and Andreus are thrust into the Trials of Virtuous Succession by the scheming Elders. This second book begins with Carys regrouping in the wilderness and learning to control her newly discovered power. However, she can’t hide out forever if she wants to save Eden and all her subjects. She must return and face her brother, who she’ll either have to kill or forgive in order to carry out her plans.
I love court intrigue books. They always offer a glimpse into a world of power, plotting, backstabbing and jealousy that I can only imagine. The Eden stories, in particular, fulfill these genre expectations, but also have problems unique to this setting. For example, the orb, the windmills, and the necessity of light to fend off the Xhelozi, murderous creatures that come out of hibernation in the winter, are all original. This is also the first time I’ve read this genre in third person limited with shifting perspectives and it actually worked without taking away from the story.
Two characters in this book continuously steal my heart, and that’s Max, the young boy Andreus rescued, and Lord Errik, the mysterious visitor keen on helping Princess Carys. In fact, on a whole, I like the minor characters more than I like the protagonists, though the Garret storyline could have been better developed. I anticipated a big reveal or twist regarding his past and his current intentions. Instead, the outcome is unsatisfying and makes the actual presence of his character even unnecessary.
The timing in this book feels off. I have no clue exactly how long Carys is away from Eden, which lessens the tension and urgency of their situation. Eventually, once Carys knows where she wants to go, the characters specifically discuss the length and difficulties of the journey ahead, but then they get to their destination very fast. It seems like they arrive the same day they leave, which makes no sense per their previous conversation.
Overall, EDEN CONQUERED has better pacing than the first book in the series, and the last third of the story is when all the plot twists and action start to get exciting. However, the ending is also fairly open. It reads as though it’s setting itself up for a third book, and without one, the series loses much of the story’s potential. Having put in the time to read these two novels, I want to know what will become of Errik, how will Carys learn to control her powers, how will Andreus behave now, what will become of the Queen, and how will the Elders be restructured.
I’ll read just about anything by Joelle Charbonneau after THE TESTING, but this novel is good for fans of BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore.