**Thank you to Skyscape Publishing/Amazon Publishing via NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel for review**
I think of this book in the same terms that Ms. Lee uses in her acknowledgments: “A sequel is a curious beast.” While I don’t remember how exactly I discovered GATES OF THREAD & STONE, nor even what whim spurred me to purchasing it, but I do remember what I felt when I finished it: flawed, but still clever. A solid standalone with series potential.
And now here we are on to the second book. Like the first novel, it’s flawed, but still clever. Also like the first book, it suffers from a very, very slow first two-thirds; yes, the finale is action-packed and well-paced, but that doesn’t extend to its beginning and middle. The pacing is clunky, something this novel inherits from its predecessor, but which I hope will finally be resolved in the next installment. Despite that, I delighted in seeing this fantasy world expanded, especially in terms of developing an entire city-state and its own culture. Action and intrigue were abound, though I do think we missed out on hearing what was still occurring back in Ninurta — but that’s the price we readers pay for limited POV.
Anyway, that’s not a major detractor to the story as this is a character-driven narrative. Kai, Reeve, Avan, and Mason all return and are navigating the fallout waters that resulted from the finale of the previous book. Here’s where I’m going to nitpick: while all the characters do mature and grow throughout the book, the relationship between Kai and Avan is stagnant. Yes, I get the feeling it’s supposed to be that way, but that stagnation is at the price of my own personal investment in their relationship. Sorry Kaivan shippers, but I’m firmly on team Kaison. Mason, alongside Reeve, is arguably the most well-developed and fleshed out character of our core group, which oftentimes had me wishing he was our protagonist. But, of course, just as I was on the verge of being fed up with Kai, she and Kronos team up to inject more character development. I hope to see much more of this Kronos and Kai dynamic in the third book.
All in all, a flawed but clever book and a solid sequel.