Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will reference previous books. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Hope and Red.
It’s been a year since Bleak Hope took up the moniker of Dire Bane and began sailing the seas terrorizing Imperial ships, never forgetting that her end goal is to free Red from the biomancers. When she and her newfound friends/family stumble upon an island being used as the testing grounds by the biomancers for a new weapon, Hope knows she must put an end to it no matter what. As she prepares herself for the battle, will the result end up costing Hope too much?
Meanwhile, it’s been a year that Red has been living in the capital city of Stonepeak being trained by the biomancers. He doesn’t regret his decision to stay, as it allowed him to save Hope, but Red’s biding his time until he can use their training against them. When a new threat emerges from the shadows of the city and begins killing any who may be in opposition to the biomancers, Red needs to find out where this new threat is coming from and put an end to it. But will the things he learns along the way be too much for him to come back from?
For me, Bane and Shadow definitely put more focus on the characters. We already know the biomancers are up to no good. That they’ve corrupted the Empire. We’re given more details and further information on how far this corruption goes, but reading it, I was more invested in the characters; their actions and reactions, sometimes surprising, but always satisfying.
ALL of the characters are put through their paces in Bane and Shadow. I capitalize the “all” because this is not just Hope and Red, although they are the focal point, but I’m talking about all the important characters we were introduced to in Hope and Red. Everyone is faced with new dilemmas or finally coming to terms with new understandings. I appreciated that no one is spared when it comes to the difficult emotional stuff, but it’s the way each character deals with it that proved most interesting.
Hope, who was used to being alone, now has people surrounding her. People that have helped her grow and become a no-holds-barred pirate captain. I loved where she is at the beginning of Bane and Shadow. But with all this newness and growth, of course, comes questions. She begins to question the initial path she started, which was one of vengeance. I think in the next book we’ll see her make some definite moves toward her own future and not one that has been pressed upon her via trying to uphold traditions.
On Red’s side, he’s living in the palace, posing as a Lord, and besides a very limited number of persons he’d call himself friendly with, he’s alone. He has no idea what is going on with Hope and the rest of his true friends. Plus, he’s working, albeit begrudgingly, with the biomancers. Wondering everyday what they’re really doing to him. He’s in a completely new element, and not quite sure of his footing which is definitely strange for Red. It’s safe to say he finds his way by the end, and I can’t wait to see where he goes with it.
I’m anxiously awaiting the final installment in the trilogy. Of course, Job Skovron threw in some very surprising turn of events at certain points and I can’t wait to see how it all concludes. So far, this series has not disappointed.
Sexual content: sex; references to violence that may be found disturbing