Iron Heart (Crier’s War #2) by Nina Varela

Fantasy, 400 pages, published in 2020

After fleeing the palace, Ayla aligns herself with the queen trying to destroy the Automae, while Crier’s is desperate to find Ayla and protect her.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Content Warning: imprisonment, body horror, torture, use of a drug-like substance

I was really anticipating this book because I loved Crier’s War so much when I read it back in 2019, but it ended up falling just a little flat for me.

The main characters are split up for the first portion of this book, which I didn’t love. Their interactions was one of the things I really loved about the first book, but thankfully this separation didn’t last too long in this book.

I think the magic and science of this world is so cool! It is basically alchemy, so there is are scientific and magical elements necessary for anything created this way to work. I feel like we don’t see alchemy too much in fantasy, so I thought this was a really fun take on it.

The plot of this book felt a little weak for me. It took me awhile to recall what the characters’ motivations were, so I didn’t really have a grasp on what they were working towards for awhile. The resolution at the end also felt a little too easy. The characters definitely struggled along the way, but the final conflict definitely went a little too smoothly for my taste.

I don’t have any particular emotions toward Ayla or Crier, but I did really like their relationship and I was happy to see it progress more in this book.

There was a kind of scary element that I was not expecting, so I was definitely creeped out while listening to it in the dark of my bedroom at night. I did really like this twist and it was one of the parts of this book that I actually felt something during, but it did get kind of forgotten about by the end of the book.

I definitely think this is a solid duology to read back without much space in between. There isn’t any intense magic system or worldbuilding, but I think I lost the emotional connection I had to the characters by having such a large gap.

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