Monday, October 26, 2020

All Things Halloween Review - Igniting Darkness

Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness, # 2)

By: Robin LaFevers

Publication: August 4th 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers

496 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Kindle Library

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Goodreads description--From New York Times best-selling author Robin LaFevers comes the follow up to “sharp and breathless” (Kirkus Reviews) historical fantasy Courting Darkness. Set in the world of the beloved His Fair Assassin series, this is perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Game of Thrones.

When you count Death as a friend, who can stand as your enemy?

Sybella, novitiate of the convent of Saint Mortain and Death’s vengeance on earth, is still reeling from her God’s own passing, and along with him a guiding hand in her bloody work. But with her sisters on the run from their evil brother and under the watchful eye of her one true friend (and love) at court, the soldier known as Beast, Sybella stands alone as the Duchess of Brittany’s protector.

After months of seeking her out, Sybella has finally made contact with a fellow novitiate of the convent, Genevieve, a mole in the French court. But when Genevieve mistakenly draws the attention of the French king to the convent of Saint Mortain and its deadly arts, she may do her sisters (and herself) more harm than good. Sybella, having already drawn the ire of the French regent, may not be able to depend on her sister and ally as much as she hoped. Still, Death always finds a way, even if it’s not what one expects.

No one can be trusted and the wolves are always waiting in this thrilling conclusion to the Courting Darkness duology, set in the world of Robin’s beloved His Fair Assassins trilogy.

Man I could kick myself. It's been 13 days since I finished Igniting Darkness and I'm finally forcing myself to write this review. And in those 13 days, I've finished 3 other books. I used to have a rule of not letting 2 days go by without writing a review and not finishing another book before reviewing. I knew I'd regret waiting so long and now I'm really struggling with remembering what I wanted to say at all. Well, all of that and pregnancy brain which is very, very real. I'm going to do my best though.

I was so angry with Genevieve at the end of Courting Darkness. She puts the entire convent at risk of the king's anger. And her disregard for her feelings for Maraud in an attempt at manipulating the King for her own benefit had me wanting to shake some sense into her. Thankfully she had Sybella to help get her back on the right path as well as fix some of her mistakes. Especially considering the terrible position she put Sybella in. So I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about her during Igniting Darkness, but she was able to put some distance between herself and the King, physically even if he did come to rely on her thoughts as an impartial friend.

I knew that Genevieve and Maraud would have to reconnect with each other and I both dreaded it and anticipated it more than anything else about the book. I just knew that if she got caught with him then the King would punish one or both of them. I worried how Maraud would handle Genevieve sleeping with the King. Of course the two weren't committed to each other, weren't even sure they would ever see each other again, but it has to feel like a betrayal nonetheless. Yet he never even questioned her about it. How convenient.

Sybella is still one of my all-time favorite heroines. She's struggling with a lot in this book...well really that's not unusual for her. She's gotten her sisters to safety but keeping them there isn't as easy as it may seem. Beast finds himself in jail for something he didn't do. A twist of the Reagent as always. Pierre plagues her on all sides. Aligning with the Reagent to turn the King against Sybella and by default the Queen. Plus she's struggling with her faith now that Mortain has become human. Who does she serve now? Even though I anticipated Genevieve and Maraud's reunion most in the book, Sybella's story always ends up being the most interesting.

Favorite quotes:

-A knowledge both primitive and true rises up from deep within me, and I feel the power of the Dark Mother fill me. Understand in my bones that while I have been broken and beaten and beyond despair, I have also rebuilt myself and have risen from the ashes of my own funeral pyre.

-“Knowing a miracle will occur does not keep one from marveling when it does.”

-And though this moment feels hopeless, that doesn’t mean I must give in to despair. Hope need not shine brightly. It need only be a dogged refusal to give up.

Igniting Darkness is so much better than my review of it. Robin LaFevers does a wonderful job of weaving a story together. So many pieces that must come together. So many characters with different motivations each. Wonderful heroes and heroines, but also equally challenging villains that thwart our heroes at nearly every turn. This story has a lot of focus on fathers. Different types of fathers who each have differing influence over their children. There's also a more feminist message to Igniting Darkness even though the entire His Fair Assassins and Courting Darkness Duology stories have focused on strong female characters leading countries, making major decisions that affect many, saving the day, and protecting others. This book had a less subtle message on the ill treatment of women from the time these books are supposed to take place. I don't mind stories that focus on strong female characters. I love them actually. And I don't mind since this is a fantasy series that the author wants to stray from social norms of the time to write what she would like to see. But I guess I just always get hung up on books with a message, even if the message is one I'm in agreement with. I end up feeling preached at and I just wonder why make the distinction in the first place? Write the story you want to read. Make society be more accepting of women if that's what you want to see, but don't put up a billboard about it so to speak. Anyway, overall I enjoyed Igniting Darkness and give it 4 Stars. Have you read Igniting Darkness? What did you think? Let me know.

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

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