Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) by Andrea Cremer

***Contains spoilers if you have not read Nightshade***

Calla Tor never thought she'd find herself in the Searchers' lair -- her sworn enemies and supposedly vicious killers -- and she definitely never expected them to make her an offer she couldn't refuse. As Calla finally begins to accept the truth about her masters and the only world she's ever known, she's faced with a crucial choice, one that will cost precious lives, define her destiny and alter the course of the ancient Witches' War.

In Wolfsbane, Andrea Cremer introduces readers to a new facet of her rich mythology, as well as a whole host of new characters. The Searchers' magic is a perfect complement to the world that began in Nightshade, and it is thought-provoking to contrast them with the Keepers. Though they are less cruel and vicious than their counterparts, there is still something a little unsettling about the Searchers, with their vague explanations and miltaristic hierarchy.

However, it is fun to watch their family-like and much more lighthearted banter, and a huge relief to see women in power rather than brutally repressed. The world of the Searchers could not be more different from that of the Keepers, and it is fascinating to see the two halves blended into one complex, spellbinding whole. The Keepers truly bare their ugly fangs in this installment, making it even darker than its haunting predecessor. Cremer holds no punches as readers are thrown headfirst into a centuries-old war.

Several familiar faces make an appearance in Wolfsbane, including our heroine Calla. Though Calla is still a fierce alpha in battle, she seems more timid and much less self-assured in life. Her self-doubt and guilt cause her to waver back and forth, rather than being the confident, powerful leader we met in Nightshade. Though it's understandable, considering the massive shift in her worldview, it is still frustrating to see her brood over things that clearly weren't her fault. Several other characters also seem to have lost their way, making surprising and sometimes heartbreaking choices.

Shay, on the other hand, really comes into his own -- no longer the meek and weak human, but an assertive hero. If Calla can once again find her place in the world, the balance of their relationship will be perfect and enduring. Cremer really cranks up the sexual tension, and Calla's heart is wrenched in two even more forcefully now that her fate is in her own hands. However, I personally find Ren's appeal baffling. His troubling behavior from book one escalates to a crisis level in the sequel, and I'm nervous to see how Cremer ultimately resolves his plotline.

Though the narrative drive is less clear than the march toward Samhain in Nightshade, there is plenty of action in this second installment, as well as a lot of crucial history. The thought and care that Cremer put into the backstory of the Witches' War is what makes this series so compelling. The Searchers' cryptic comments and drawn-out explanations are exasperating for the first half of the novel, but when the intricate history finally falls into place it is stunning. Still, Cremer leaves readers with more than a few questions. It is clear that a vast universe of history and lies, magic and secrets lies at the heart of these novels, and its many mysterious pieces are strategically placed in each installment to reveal the magnificent whole.


Disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

This novel hits shelves tomorrow! Click here to purchase Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer.


Rummanah Aasi said...

Awesome review, Casey! I'm really looking forward to learning more about Calla's world. I have a feeling there is much to Shay that we don't know. Really looking forward to reading "Wolfsbane"!

Lauren M said...

Wolfsbane wasn't quite as good as Nightshade for me. But I did still enjoy it--the last half of the book, especially.
You make so many good points in your review, Casey! :)

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

@Rummanah -- Thanks! You'll definitely enjoy Wolfsbane then, because we learn a TON about the world of the Keepers/Searchers/Guardians/etc.I found it all really fascinating. I hope you enjoy it!

@Lauren -- Thanks! I agree, it wasn't quite as amazing as Nightshade, but I still adore the series =)

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