Title: God Storm
Series: Shadow Frost #2
Author: Coco Ma
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 20th, 2020 (Blackstone Publishing)
Synopsis: In the kingdom of Axaria, a darkness has fallen. After defeating the evil mother who summoned an immortal demon to kill her, newly coronated Queen Asterin Faelenhart should have every reason to celebrate. Her kingdom is safe, forbidden magic eradicated, and her friends are alive. Except Asterin’s triumph has come at a devastating cost – forced to choose between a lifelong friend and true love, she’s lost both. But the shadows in Axaria have begun to stir once again, and no one is more starved for vengeance than Asterin….
Yet it soon becomes clear that the shadows plaguing her kingdom are just the beginning. Another realm coexists with the mortal world – the beautiful, nightmarish Immortal Realm ruled by the wicked God of Shadow, King Eoin. When their paths entwine, Asterin realizes that Eoin possesses exactly what – and who – she seeks most. And the fates of all those that she holds dear – Orion, her missing Guardian; Luna, the friend she could not save; Harry, the demon who saved them all; and Quinlan, her beloved broken prince – ultimately rest in the god’s hands.
But in a world of magic, not everyone is always as they seem. When shocking discoveries threaten everything and everyone Asterin has sworn her life to protect, she won’t be the only person forced to make a choice…a choice that will change the mortal world forever.
And maybe even destroy it.
Thank you to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Asterin Faelenhart should be celebrating – she has rescued her long imprisoned mother, defeated the false queen Priscilla, saved her kingdom and is now Queen of Axaria. But these happy events have come at a price – Orion is lost to the immortal realm, and Asterin’s actions in choosing to save Quinlan over Luna have resulted in her losing both. But darkness is already making its reappearance in Axaria, dark magic is causing havoc amongst the people. When news of Quinlan’s recovery reaches her, Asterin immediately leaves for Eradore with a few Elites only to walk into a deadly ambush en route, a precursor of things to come.
I liked that this book delved deeper into shadow magic, which I was really curious to know about. There was also some excellent world-building, particularly in Eradore (that library sounds amazing) and the Immortal Realm. Writing and pacing wise, I found this to be a significantly smoother read and that ending in particular really was quite epic. Asterin and her most of her friends have parted ways since the events of the Fairfest Battle, which means multiple storylines and POVs for a large part of the book, which I thought the author handled very well, keeping the tone engaging and not letting the plot drag at all. Also, hats off for another gorgeous cover!
While this is undoubtedly Asterin’s story, I felt that this book’s strength was in how much time it spent on building up the other characters – some in entirely unexpected directions. The demon Harry is desperately searching for Orion, who jumped into a portal during the fight, unaware of the fact that he is in fact in the Immortal Realm, in the company of none other than the Shadow God, King Eoin, having lost his memory. Orion and Harry’s arc was actually the one I enjoyed the most, even if memory loss is a trope I severely dislike. They were really put through a lot in this book, Harry in particular, and I do hope he’s going to be fine after what Eoin did to his magic.
Luna on the other hand, went down a very different path from what she has been so far, and an undoubtedly dark one. Granted, Asterin’s choice was indeed a betrayal of their long friendship, but this change in her character just seemed extreme. While her drive to become a stronger and walk her own path was admirable, there were times I found her to be extremely immature and frankly her actions in this book made her quite dislikable. That said, her arc is currently the most fascinating one for me, and I’m interested to see how her story is going to be resolved.
However, apart from these two arcs, I didn’t find myself paying much heed to any of the other plot lines as these just seemed to overshadow it all somehow. Frankly, I rather struggled to keep going with the book, not because the plot wasn’t good, just that I barely felt invested in it at all. I daresay the experience might have been different had I reread Shadow Frost in the last couple of months. When I read Shadow Frost, there was just so much excitement and anticipation to know what was going to happen, but with this book it was more like “ok, what’s next?”. Basically, even with the multitude of twists and revelations in the story, this plot seems to have lost its ability to shock me – and that’s saying a lot considering how this book ended. While I liked the characters, I wasn’t really able to connect to them this time around, and a large part of that was because it felt like I’ve already gone down similar paths in fantasy novels before.
I do believe it’s just that my reading tastes have evolved in recent years, but a reader new to YA fantasy might feel very differently about this book. However, I try not to judge second books too harshly, so I’m reserving judgement on reading book 3 until I’ve seen some reviews for it whenever it’s out. Overall, God Storm was a solid read and would be a good choice if you’re in the mood for something fast-paced and full of unique magic.
God Storm releases on October 20th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: