Monday, 19 September 2016

Review: The Shadow Hour

The Shadow Hour 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Atom! 

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

As you guys are probably well aware, The Girl At Midnight was one of my favourite books of last year! I completely loved it and it ticked all of my boxes, so I was really excited to finally start the sequel, especially after the ending of the first book! 

I was intrigued from the very first page, we get a POV that we haven't had before and it helped to pull you right back in to the world of the book, although I had forgotten a lot of what had happened, and had to read the last chapter or so of the first book to nudge it all loose! 3 months have passed since the end of the first book and the epilogue was just plain ominous, which made me excited for the book...not the reaction I should have really!? 

I love the books many settings, you get a little mini world tour again as we see multiple different locations in the book, each as vivid as the other, London, New York, China, Scotland and so on. As a frequent visitor to Camden I can confirm that there are kebab shops EVERYWHERE of varying levels of dodginess. I love how well captured Camden market was on the page, not going to lie! I also really loved seeing more of the world, through the characters eyes and through the lens of the story, it added magic to the settings. You really do get sucked in by the world of the book, it's colourful and atmospheric and is no help at all if you suffer from wanderlust. Just warning you. 

I loved the characters in the first book, and all of them are back again, but they and their relationships have developed even more this book, and some of the characters have really grown and changed. I loved Echo in book one, she was my favourite and everything I loved in a heroine, snarky and badass. She was determined to help those she loves and she was still dealing with the whole ghosts in her head thing. Which is fair enough. She's not perfect either, which makes for a relatable and believable female lead. Caius is still one of my faves, he's trying to fit in to the modern world and he wants to help Echo as much as he can. Being with Echo has allowed him to change a little from how he was in the first book, and how he was after Rose. He's not as emotionally closed off and you can see more of who he really is as a character. I was surprised with how well he was dealing with the whole Tanith thing but then he did have three months to pitch a fit, that we didn't see. I LOVED how he's picking up Echo's sarcasm. 

I'm telling you now, Caius picking up their slang and gestures gave me life. It was so damn funny, and him and Dorian being 'modernised' and using technology. It genuinely cracked me up, Dorian's all "I don't trust food from boxes" or whatever he said and Caius is getting to grips with the tech, slowly but surely...."It had taken three days of suspicious staring before she'd convinced him to use the microwave" and you guys...I couldn't even. It seriously cracked me up. It was like Hook from OUAT. 

ANYWAY. Back to characters....Ivy I completely loved. She's a lot stronger than in book one, she's built a friendship with both Caius and Dorian and is fully invested in their group and their plans. I was hoping to see more of her in this book, and for her to get her hero moment and BOOM wish granted. Dorian even got all protective of Ivy and she called him Dad and his reaction was priceless. Bless him. Ivy cracked me up this book, her reaction to Echo leaving, and other comments she made where just hilarious, and she was really courageous this book! I see a ship on the horizon as well that is one half Ivy! 

We saw some familiar faces, Altair who I really didn't like in the first book, but kind of ended up liking this book because you see a softer side of him and he's actually quite snarky a time or two! The Ala is back in all her mysterious glory. And Rowan. More on Rowan later when we come to the "Ships" portion of this review ;) Either way, I've loved watching these characters grow and develop over the course of the two books, and getting to see and learn more about them. 

I loved the new characters in this book, or loved to hate in the case of Quinn. Quinn gave me SUCH Magnus Bane vibes but he's not as nice as Magnus. He was shady as, like if I was them I'd have been side eyeing him so much. I wasn't at all surprised in the end. I mean...he has totally cool eyes, I'll give him that and he kind of unwittingly united my ship but still. Shady. Helios I loved, I want more Helios. He was strangely adorable for a Drakharin soldier, I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book hopefully....sailing....maybe....

Seeing as we're on the subject of sailing...let me tell you about my ships. Because hot damn. I ship Echo and Caius SO DAMN MUCH. I love them together, and I know it's weird for Echo with the whole Rose thing but still. They're just so adorable together, he's always there for her and teasing her and she's teaching him all the modern things. They are SO FREAKING close to having a relationship in this book, we've watched it develop over the course of the first book and then this book and then....Rowan had to stick his beak in. I knew from page one Rowan was going to come and throw a spanner in the works. He had to. We didn't see much of Rowan in the first book, I admit I was intrigued and curious. I regretted that almost immediately when he showed up in this book. I KNEW he'd put a hole in my ship and then BOOM. Yep. Right there. I knew from the lack of Rowan in book one that we'd get a tonne of Rowan in this book, I was oddly intrigued by him, and I kinda thought I'd find it hard to choose between he and Caius but...nope. I'm fully team Caius. 

Why didn't I like Rowan? It had nothing to do with how much I loved Caius! I promise! In the first book I noted that Rowan didn't do anything to defend Eco. His best friend and girlfriend, and Caius within a few days of knowing her was essentially doing Rowan's job and protecting her. So that bugged me. He bugged me even more in this book. When he saw Echo and Caius together, he verbally peed on her, marking his territory, but then went right on with being a moody bugger. Like broke up, go away. He was just so pissy, and sure I understand why but he was such a pain. Getting in the way of Caius and Echo and POOR CAIUS. He's just gotten over his emotional issues and BOOM. Love triangle, here to make Caius feel crappy again. I wasn't really here for the love triangle, I was hoping it wouldn't happen but it did. I'm kind of hoping that after Echo's reaction about Caius that's the end of the love triangle, because she has much better chemistry with Caius and we got to watch their relationship develop and overcome certain obstacles and so on, and they where fill of AAW moments in both books. Rowan was Although, I was pleased that the Rose thing wasn't as much of a problem as I thought it would be! 

Speaking of love triangles we nearly got hit with a double love triangle. Thank the LORD Dorian and Jasper didn't allow it. I genuinely have shipped these guys so hard since the first book, they're so cute together. Dorian has come a hell of a long way since book one, he hated the Avicen and here he is now, with feelings for one and not entirely sure what to do about it. Jealous Dorian is so damn cute. Not going to lie. I loved watching their relationship develop even more in this book, it's been a bit of a struggle for poor old Dorian, but he got there in the end and I actually cheered at one scene! The thing is, the struggle is totally valid. Dorian's spent like what? 150 years hating Avicen? And it's been a few months and he's struggling with that and how he feels about Jasper. But Dorian was all NOT TODAY SATAN...I MEAN QUINN. Jasper continued to be totally hilarious, he's trying to lock down his man, and his POV was both enlightening and pretty damn hilarious. It even gave me the warm and fuzzies because of the blushes bit. SO CUTE. I love Jasper because he's so eccentric and funny, his inner monologue cracks me up every single time, at one point he welcomes Dorian to his 'humble abode' out loud and then he's like mentally, 'also, please stay, forever and ever, thankyou' which is both funny and pretty relatable. We've all had that thought at some point, I'm sure. 

The romance was just...I love how both give you cute moments, but the relationships both have things to overcome that are both relatable and genuine. Not just there for the sake of it. Despite how much I don't like Rowan, he was bound to return at some point and he is close with Echo. I just love the romances in the book, they're secondary to the plot, but they still give you the cute moments that you like to see sometimes when you're reading, amid all the action! I've also totally spotted a new ship and it needs to happen because it's about damn time Ivy got someone. Plus...adorable! 

What I loved about this installment was how you see the Avicen more in this book, and you see how they're attempting to work with the Drakharin from our merry band of misfits. You see them trying to overcome their prejudices and it shows how far our group has come over the books, and I loved seeing all that character growth laid out. Ivy and Dorian's friendship for one, something that seemed pretty impossible at one point in book one, and then in this one you have Ivy offering him comfort. You really see the friendships in the group, and how well they've bonded and it was a brilliant thing to see. 

The Shadow Hour continues to showcase the authors imagination, giving you a rich and vivid setting that has plenty of originality to it, and some truly brilliant characters. I loved the mythology of the world in the first book, and in this book we get to see more of it, which has made me even more intrigued! I basically just need a book that's all the mythology and history of the Avicen and the Drakharin and then I'm all set for life...pretty please Melissa?! 

The POV switches between our main characters, and it's done incredibly well without breaking the flow of the narrative, it allows you to keep up with the characters and what each of them is up to when they're all separated and allows you insight in to all of them and what they're feeling, and what their motivation is. I love the multi POVs in this book, not going to lie! The Shadow Hour is action packed, much like the first book and it soon reaches a point when it's hard to put the book down because you can't find an appropriate place to do it, so I read most of this in one sitting because I have no self control. The first book was a real quest book, with maps and clues and so on, and this book retained some of that, which I loved, as Echo is trying to find information on their new foe. 

The Shadow Hour is a fantastic sequel, it keeps the things you loved from the first book, the originality, the mythology, the quest vibes, the humour and the character growth and expands on it, giving you more and progressing the overall story of the series onwards. Genuinely this book has made me laugh out loud more than once, and the atmosphere of the book and the world really do envelope you. There's plenty of action and intrigue, and I love how book three is being set up, although I'm not sure if it's the last book! The plot for this installment is well wrapped up with a few threads left dangling to keep you excited for the next book because they need to #RescueCaius! The wait for the next book is going to be SUCH a pain because of that, like it's a cliffhanger but it's kind of manageable. Sort of. 

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