Whispers of Shadow & Flame (Earthsinger, #2)
Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.
Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.
Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies―all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms.
The “True Father” rules the land, stealing Earthsong from his citizens in a mandatory tribute. The Keepers are working against him, and the Shadowfox is the most famous among them with his/her intense mastery and high natural ability for Earthsong. When intel reaches the True Father about where the Shadowfox will be, he has his Cantor send Kyara, known as the Poison Flame, to capture him and bring him back alive. Kyara has an ability over Nethersong that is used to kill at the True Father’s whim. She is controlled by a powerful blood spell that forces her to follow orders.
As Kyara seeks out the Shadowfox, she must infiltrate the Keepers to learn which is the Shadowfox, and in the process, she gets closer to Darvyn and learns more about them/him. At the same time, we also follow a slave/servant, Zeli, who had given tribute in the past and works in the house of one of the nobility under the True Father’s reign. Her story is somewhat disconnected from the others but also very interesting.
This series is a wonderfully strong epic fantasy series with strong world and character building. Although I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t learn more about the characters from the first book (though they are mentioned here), these new characters became equally dear to my heart. The romance is deliciously slow-building, and I absolutely adored both Kyara and Darvyn. They all leap off the page and seem so real. Another great element of these books is that the characters are people of color, and represented as such on the cover.
The pacing in this book is perfect, and it is hard to put down. Notably, it does end with a cliffhanger, so be prepared to eagerly await the next installment. These books contain wonderful characters and a fantastic world that I cannot wait to revisit. I would also add warnings for human trafficking and physical abuse/torture. Highly recommend for people who love immersive epic fantasy with strong characters, world, and romance, including older teens and adults of all ages.