Stormbringer (Weather Witch #2)
I was a huge fan of the first book, but that means I had high expectations for the sequel. My expectations were met, exceeded, and I am so satisfied with Stormbringer.
Jordan and Rowen must come to terms with their being torn apart by fate - they are on enemy airships, with no clue where the other is. In fact, Jordan has no idea that Rowen is trying to rescue her at all. This creates so much dynamic action from Jordan's side of the story because she must save herself. And yet, the newly Made Witch does not want to give up hope - for herself, her survival, and her happiness. Jordan faces so much adversity throughout both books, and she comes through stronger on the other side. She is different, it's true, but she is still so much herself.
Rowen is very much the same, yet his scenes are a bit more lighthearted. He learns to enjoy being with the pirates - ahem, traders - and comes to call them friends. This is quite the step for the rich boy who set off on a heroic journey to rescue his childhood love. I really enjoyed Rowen's personal journey as well as his journey with the pirate ship "Tempest."
The plot is given so much depth through the side characters like the Wandering Wallace, Bran the Maker, Philadelphia's Councilmen, and House Astraea's loyal servants. The Wandering Wallace and his wife, Miyakitsu, were by far my favorite characters. Who is this faceless joker, this mysterious magician who has his hand in so many things yet seems to care for nothing? What other kinds of Wildkin exist, besides the Merrow and Miyakitsu's shape-changer type? Throughout Stormbringer secrets are revealed, magic and lore is explained, politics are discussed, and yet we are still left wanting more. How can I still want more but be satisfied at the same time?! This book is just that good!
The politics throughout the series are somewhat complicated, but still consistent and interesting. By taking place in an alternate history version of the United States Delany is able to explore topics like slavery, class struggle, poverty, and racism in a familiar yet somehow completely unique setting.
The only bad part was the sexual abuse of one main character by a side character. I was not expecting this to happen the first time it did. And then it continued. The abuse served a purpose in the story, and it led to some strong character development, but I think it could have been done a different way. My only grief with this whole series is this sexual abuse. That girl should not have been raped, and I understand why it happened in the story, but I still don't agree with it in this case.
With that being said, Stormbringer was an amazingly unique fantasy story that I highly recommend. An alternate U.S. with magical slaves, shape-changing enemies, political intrigue and pirates create a fascinating story.
The characters were rendered wonderfully – a lot was left to interpretation and maybe that makes the novel a bit harder to read than normal, but this time around I enjoyed the subtle shifts in behavior and emotions so intricately described. Each of them a mystery – even the little girl with the tremendous power. I was half in love with the story of the Wandering Wallace and Miyakitsu, even though I didn’t understand what exactly happened – not fully. There are a lot more mysteries still not clear, like the reason for the soul stones and what is the Wandering Wallace’s aim. The overall atmosphere of the book, is dark and grim, and even horribly sad at times.
The thing I was miffed with, however, was the start – it was the scene from the end of the Weather Witch – the same scene where Jordan and Rowen are boarded across different ships. The scene showed some differences this time around in the novel. Leaving that, I was pretty much into this book – hanging on to every word. The book got better and better as the story progressed, and by better I mean with regards to the plot. Mood-wise, it was dark, and even the end was sort of bittersweet. That, however, makes me really excited for the next book.
Received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.