What does it mean to be bound? Mikael and Shironne have known for a month now that they are bound, but neither truly knows what their future holds.
When Shironne is kidnapped, Mikael uses the nascent tie between them to get her back, and to keep her safe, Shironne is placed among the Family in their underground Fortress. As long as she’s within those walls, outsiders can’t get to her. That leaves Mikael working to discover who would steal her away in the first place. Her ability to creep into others’ thoughts, memories, and dreams is unprecedented, but who would be able to use that?
And Shironne must deal with a new and frustrating way of life, where contact with adults—including Mikael—is strictly curtailed and her time is constantly monitored. She also has to live among a yeargroup, and the Sixteens are not the calm, unemotional Family she’s accustomed to seeing from a distance. They have their own problems and petty jealousies, not too different from her own sisters. Finding her place among them is going to be a challenge.
Fortunately, Shironne can access Mikael’s thoughts to guide her in her new life… while for some reason, he can’t access hers, leaving him without guidance at times when he could definitely use it.
The first book of this series, Dreaming Death, is such a favorite of mine, so I was super excited when the sequel was finally released and I was not disappointed. Such a good read! I’m not sure what it is that I love so much about these books except it’s a special combination of elements combined with heart that really works for me.
In this sequel new dangers are introduced while old dangers rear their heads. We learn a lot more about Shironne’s family history and Mikael’s as well. All of this background information is fun to explore but it’s also integral to understanding the current situation that they’ve found themselves in, especially when their family’s histories threaten their very lives. I love Shironne and Mikael’s characters! I love Shironne’s determination, even if it sometimes gets her in trouble. She’s never malicious, just trying to do the right thing or sometimes curious. It’s hard not to like her. And Mikael is one of those lonely souls that you just want to see end up happy. I’m so glad that he and Shironne found each other, even though they have a tough road ahead of them. This also has a lot of great side characters. Shironne’s mother epitomizes strength, having lived through a horrible marriage but determined to remain strong for her daughters, and herself. Honestly, you really just want to see all of these characters happy at the end of the day.
One of the other things that I love so much about the series is the world-building, it’s really rich and detailed. There is an entire history built here and this land and the peoples in it were not static. There’s a history of different cultures coming together over this land either through migration or conquest. You have these peoples, in some cases, meshing to form new ways of doing things, or in other cases remaining completely separate. In the first book this history is a lot more in the background but here, as Shironne has to go live in the fortress and adapt to the Family way of life, it’s much more front and center. And all of this world-building is important to the story because it affects the way the characters interact with each other. I suspect there is a lot more to this world, such as people outside this kingdom, that future books will expand on as well.
A part of the world-building that I love even more than the history world, is the ‘magic’. Shironne is a touch sensitive so she can touch an object or a person and read into it. For an object she knows things it’s come into contact with, with people she can read their deepest thoughts. I appreciate the way that this is shown to also be a burden to Shironne. Her talent has drawbacks because it’s not only her hands that pick up these things but all parts of her body, so even eating food becomes difficult (imagine eating meat and seeing the slaughter of the animal and such). Also, a lot of people avoid her because they’re afraid she’ll touch them and she’ll know their secrets. Because of that Shironne grew up fairly isolated. But Shironne’s type of sensitivity isn’t the only kind. There are also people that are basically empaths and they can be good receivers or broadcasters or sometimes both. Mikael is a broadcaster and he can make other sensitives feel what he’s feeling. This often causes problems because he’s very loud and due to another nature of his talent (experiencing people’s deaths while dreaming) causes others to feel very unpleasant things. The way all of these dynamics work together in this world is pretty interesting.
But the main driving force of the plot, besides Mikael and Shironne’s relationship, is a mystery. Or really several mysteries. Who kidnapped Shironne and why? What does Mikael’s reoccurring dream about his father mean? What is the deal with Shironne’s little sister? What is going on with that girl in Shironne’s yeargroup, and why is the leader of the yeargroup always so on edge? Etc. I love a mystery that needs solving, a problem that needs to be fixed, and this book has that in spades. I do also see some things being set up for the next book, which I appreciate. Yay, more mysteries!
Overall, I loved this book! Very much looking forward to more stories in this world, hopefully. 5/5 stars.