Helene was probably my favorite character in the first book and remains so in this book. She is torn between loyalty to her family, the empire, and to Elias, the boy whom she loves and who has been her friend for so long. She's courageous and bold and multifaceted. She is not perfect but she is constantly trying to do her best. She has a very difficult time of things in this book. I was really excited to get to read her perspective and learn more about her.
This book has some very harsh villains. It may be too much for younger readers. They surprised me at times, as did many of the other characters. I don't want to spoil anything, but this is a book wherein a lot of things change and characters evolve.
Overall, it's a fantastically woven story- I was given chills, brought to tears, and loving every second of the character's journey.