This sequel to Scavenge the Stars sees Amaya and her crew heading to the city of Baleine to find the mysterious Benefactor responsible for creating and distributing counterfeit currency. As the team seeks this person, they are filled with an increasingly urgent and personal need to find a cure for the Ash Fever ravaging the kingdoms. If they want to find a cure and catch the mastermind behind the illness, they’re going to need to use their wits and rely on each other.
Ok. I really enjoyed the first book in this duology. It’s a gender-swapped retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo (which is a story I love) and it hit all the right notes for me. Strong world-building, a diverse, well-developed cast of characters, an intriguing plot. But, unfortunately, almost everything I loved about the first book disappeared in this one and the Count of Monte Cristo storyline was non-existent.
The world-building of the port city of Baleine was minimal. I could get a good picture of the fish market, but otherwise did not have a firm understanding of this kingdom or its power structures. But, while there was little world-building, there was A LOT of plot. It’s definitely an intricately plotted tale, but veering on overly complicated. We are seeking out the Benefactor, we are searching for a cure, we are looking into Amaya’s family’s past, we have a revenge plot, we have a hidden identity plot, we have a rescue plot, we have an on-again-off-again romance plot. There was just so much going on, and none of it was particularly well-developed.
I have one final gripe with this book and it is BIG: the main plot is wrapped up in a letter! Amaya and Cayo, the lead characters, elected not to go back to Baleine to find and apprehend the Benefactor. The reveal of the Benefactor’s identity was anti-climactic, and then the resolution happened in such a removed way that it was wholly unsatisfying. I closed the book and felt so disappointed.
I do still love the characters in this novel and the diverse representation. Amaya is a really compelling character. She’s been through so much hardship and still has a great capacity for trust and love, and I love to see her triumph over the people who oppressed her and help other children escape the slavery she endured. There are several strong, independent women in this series that you can’t help but admire. But, the characters are really the only part of this book I enjoyed.
I found this to be a super disappointing end to what started as a promising series. Still, if you like intricately plotted, adventure fantasy, you may find you like this one! At the very least, it is worth picking up the first one to read as a stand-alone title. If you’ve read this series, let me know what you thought.