Friday, December 13, 2013
Jay Kristoff had a charming debut with Stormdancer, but one I had some reservations with both morally (falling on some outdated fantasy tropes) and with its actual execution. The world he created resembled Hunger Games, The Last Unicorn, Miyazaki, and Kurosawa, but the novel had some logic and pacing issues that kept me from fully loving it, but was intrigued and entertained enough to continue. In a trilogy the second volume really only needs to be a decent bridging volume to succeed, but there is another way to tackle one. Kristoff thankfully went the latter route. This book betters the previous volume in every measure, creating a book more complex, gripping, brutal, tense, violent, realistic the handling of its themes, and morally probing. The action scenes are terrifically paced, the atmosphere is grim but captivating, and the new characters and plots lines all succeed. This book is so brutal in fact any lingering suspicions that this is a YA series disappear. But, the grim is undercut by strong characters and the thoughtfulness and maturity of the author’s performance, no grittiness for grittiness sake. The amount Kristoff learned between these two volumes is pretty impressive. The only problem (besides the demon subplot which still feels tacked on and unnecessary), is how he is going to better this for the finale. It is going to be tough but I will be there to see him try.