Redwine shows notable growth from the previous book, weaving her story with breathless pacing, harmonious cadence, and dynamic prose. But by no means would I call this dark, epic-fantasy continuation an “easy read.” At some points, I thought the plot was beating me like I owed it money. The depraved potential of humanity comes through as savagely as the base drive for hope and survival against all odds. But any who've read the first book in the series should already realize this isn't a fluffy tale for the faint-of-heart.
Rachel may be one of the strongest heroines this reviewer has ever encountered. I was able to form a better understanding of her from the very start of this book, despite the character being trapped in a wearying feedback loop of self-recrimination. Those who've suffered mind-shattering trauma and loss will likely be best able to identify with the internal conflict Rachel struggles with throughout the story. In that way, it's almost therapeutic—working the reader through internal damage and frailty along with the heroine. Which segues into one of my favorite quotes:
“Maybe that's what love is. Giving others the power to hurt you and trusting that they'll use it to heal you instead.” - Rachel
By far, the most overall character advancement is seen in the ever-logical hero, Logan. With leadership thrust upon him by a desperate band of fleeing survivors, he's forced to take responsibility for the welfare of a broken people he's not sure he can save. Several side-characters come into their own in this book as well—siblings Quinn and Willow displaying the most intriguing and noteworthy development.
Though the identity of the killer is easy to narrow down to a handful of qualified possibilities, motives and identities are more nebulous than they may seem. And while the cliffhanger ending doesn't leave the kind of closure or satisfaction this reviewer might have preferred, it did leave me wanting more. (I probably wouldn't gripe so much if book 3 were already out.)