by Laini Taylor
First sentence (ARC): ""The Tapestry of Creation is failing," hissed the Djinn King."
Release date: September 17th; review copy sent to me by the publisher.
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I read the first book in this series a year and a half ago, and (for a variety of reasons), I decided not to reread it before delving into this sequel. When I went back and looked at my review for the first one, before sitting down to write this one, I realized two things: 1) everything I said the first time around is just as true for the second book, and 2) while you can read the second book as a stand-alone, you really should read them in order, and quite possibly one right after another. (For you "I-hate-waiting-till-a-series-is-done" types, you might want to put it off because the overall story isn't finished.)
This story picks up one month after Blackbringer. Whisper Silksinger -- the last member of a dying fairy clan of weavers and guardians to the djinn Azazel -- is fleeing for her life from a group of devil monsters. She is tasked with the job of getting Azazel back to his throne in Nazneen, which -- of course -- is much easier said than done. Assisting her is Hirik, a Mothmage, who is in disguise because his clan is the most hated in all of fairy because of their betrayal in the Dawn Days. He is out to become the champion of Azazel because he feels a need to restore his clan's honor.
Whisper is a slight thing, barely speaking above a whisper (hence her name), and constantly trembling in fear. Don't let that fool you, the girl is an admirable heroine, determined and plucky and strong in ways that, while not flashy or dramatic, are still quite substantial. Hirik, too, is admirable: one of Taylor's gifts is the ability to write both strong male and female characters who compliment each other rather than competing against one another.
For those who loved Blackbringer, Magpie Windwitch and Talon Ratherstring are also a big part of this story (yay!). They're tasked with the waking of all the djinn, in order to help repair the Tapestry. This -- of course -- isn't as easy as it sounds, either, especially after their path changes in order to find and protect Whisper. It's the last third of the book that is the most intense; Taylor builds, and maintains, suspense brilliantly, keeping the reader turning page after page dying to know what's going to happen next.
Even though it's the second in a yet-to-be completed series, one thing that I really appreciate is that it wraps up the story while leaving a thread alive for the next book. A big complaint I have with many series is the "to be continued" aspect of the books, the cliff-hanger feeling at the end. There is no such feeling at the end of this book; Taylor leaves us satisfied with the story as is, and yet curious about what will happen next. Which is, in my mind, how a series is supposed to work.
It's also hard for an author to keep the same spirit and drive that they captured in the first book going in the subsequent books of the series. This is not something Taylor suffers from: I enjoyed Silksinger as much as I remember enjoying Blackbringer, and I am excited and curious as to where Taylor is going to take the story.
And that, my friends, is a mark of a great writer.