It’s been two weeks since Oriana Paredes was banished from the Golden City. Police consultant Duilio Ferreira, who himself has a talent he must keep secret, can’t escape the feeling that, though she’s supposedly returned home to her people, Oriana is in danger.
Adding to Duilio’s concerns is a string of recent murders in the city. Three victims have already been found, each without a mark upon her body. When a selkie under his brother’s protection goes missing, Duilio fears the killer is also targeting nonhuman prey.
To protect Oriana and uncover the truth, Duilio will have to risk revealing his own identity, put his trust in some unlikely allies, and consult a rare and malevolent text known as The Seat of Magic….
So, I read the first book to this a while ago and I’ve been meaning to read the second but stuff just gets away from me (like it does). I really love J. Kathleen Cheney’s work overall-she writes exactly the type of books that I like. Fantasy infused with mystery and romance. And in this case also historical fiction. It’s like all of my favorite worlds are colliding! A lot of times when this happens and I think ‘this is going to be my jam, huzzah!’ I read the book and it disappoints me because my expectations are too high, but that’s not the case with this series. I liked the first one quite a lot and I think the sequel was even better.
I think one of Cheney’s biggest strengths is her characters and the relationships between them. This one starts out following Duilio rather than Oriana, and it takes a while for her to show up in the book. At first I was a little disappointed by the lack of Oriana because I love her character, but I think spending time with Duilio really did a lot to keep me invested in his character and his parts of the story. Seeing his drive and determination while helping with investigations, his relationships with friends and members of his family, and his growing love for Oriana was all very well written. One of the great things about these characters is that you get to see both their vulnerabilities and their strengths. Having such depth of character allows the story and relationships that develop to be dynamic. Also, it’s great to have a fantasy story that has such a healthy Mother/Son relationship! Duilio’s mother is fantastic and so supportive of her son–I loved her in this book so much!
The main plot of this book is focused on a mystery. Or rather several mysteries that may or may not be related. And not even just mystery but sort of a police procedural as well. I really enjoy mystery plots and I love them fused with fantasy. I appreciated the way this one was plotted. Parts of it seemed obvious what was going on while other things were revealed slowly over time and felt a lot more surprising once they were out in the open. There are a lot of players on the stage here, and Cheney handles the multiple plot points well, weaving them together to create an engaging and well-paced story that kept me wanting to see how things turned out.
Of course, I am all about the romance in this one. I love romance, that’s no secret. One of the things I appreciated so much in this one is how the romance is paced. It’s not a case of love at first sight. And even once they realize there are feelings between them, they’re practical and cautious about advancing their relationship. I appreciated Oriana’s concerns and I appreciated the way she handled them and how Duilio was giving her the space she needed to make such an important decision. I love how they respect each other. I wish I came across more relationships like this in romance plots! There’s also a nice little secondary romance plot that I also enjoyed a lot. The more the merrier!
Overall, I really enjoyed The Seat of Magic and am looking forward to the third book, The Shores of Spain, which I’ve already picked up and added to my giant TBR pile. 4/5 stars.