The Alcazar (The Cerulean, #2)
Sera has finally recognized the true power of her Cerulean blood. But in order to return home, she’ll need help from Agnes, Leo, and their grandmother—the only person with knowledge about the mysterious island of Braxos, where the Cerulean tether is anchored. Though the journey will be treacherous, Sera will risk anything to see her City again.
Meanwhile, the High Priestess’s power has reached new heights in the City Above the Sky. And when Leela begins having visions of Sera, alive, she knows she’s the key to saving the City. But to bring Sera home, Leela must channel the strength, courage, and curiosity that once got her friend exiled.
With the help of friends, family, and Cerulean magic, Leela and Sera could soon return to their normal lives. But when that time comes, will Leela be able to serve her City as blindly as she once did? And will Sera be able to leave everything and everyone she’s grown to love on the planet behind?
As the three arrive in Pelago, they find themselves swept into the political battles that are raging between their grandmother and the triumverate that rules some of the main islands. Meanwhile, Leela is trying to uncover the secrets that the High Priestess has covered up for so long and find a way back to Sera.
What I loved: The pacing is really solid in this series, and this book is full of action as we proceed towards the ending resolutions. I appreciated that all the characters from the first book are continued in this second book, and we see what happens to all of them. I also found this idea of the Cerulean really interesting and unique. The themes are similar to the first book with a major theme being greed and the thirst for power, as well as fear as a motivator for wrongs and the power of friendship.
What left me wanting more: A lot of the plot turns seem very convenient and not always logical as a mechanism to wrap things up or move the story forward. Magic is used as the reason for some things that were necessary to drive the plot forward, such as the ability to speak any language in the universe. At times, characters seem like comic book villains (such as Agnes and Leo's father, their grandmother, etc.), and changes in them happen on the drop of a dime. While I do think people can change, I'm not sure it would be so rapid. The resolution with Agnes and Leo's grandmother was also a bit unbelievable, possibly because it felt a bit rushed/sudden. The romance that develops for Sera felt awkward and a bit forced (Agnes's romance felt more believable to me). I had some trouble wrapping my mind around it and buying into it, but others may be more accepting. Some of these may be due to the number of characters we follow that allow only some of their stories and inner turmoil/thoughts to be shown.
Final verdict: Overall, THE ALCAZAR is a YA fantasy with an action-filled plot and an unique world. Would recommend for people who do not want more reasoning/background information and are okay with consistently fast events, romance, and changes.