After the shocking events of last summer, the high society of Port Saint Frey has plenty to gossip about. Who was the Gentleman Bandit? Why hasn’t he been captured? And what really happened that night when the Guildmaster disappeared? When the Guild hires Abel Fresnel, a detective with special powers of his own, to find the answers, Tesara and Yvienne Mederos have to avoid his probing questions and keep mum about their role in the events of that dark night. Everything’s more or less under control until a dead man turns up in the dumbwaiter…
I enjoyed this follow up to The Sisters Mederos quite a bit. There were several things I thought this sequel did better than the first book, but a couple of things I still have some niggling doubts about.
The main characters are engaging, even when you’re not fully behind their actions. Yvienne and Tesara are not up for sainthood any time soon, both having dangerous secrets and crimes in their pasts. Yvienne, at least, seems to have turned over a new leaf and is trying to become a successful businesswoman while their parents are away on a sea voyage. Tesara, however, continues to be a source of frustration for me in her behavior. She’s young and bored, and doesn’t really know what she wants out of life, only that it’s not what is expected of her. She also still carries a tremendous amount of guilt over her past actions due to her powers, and you sometimes get the feeling that she’s trying to run away from herself as well. There is a kind of restlessness about her that is uncomfortable. Both sisters are nuanced protagonists, and very well written. I wish all of the side characters were afforded such depth. A new character, Abel is given special attention, but most of the other side characters are a little more one dimensional. Which is fine, really, for an adventure story such as this. I feel like the best decision was getting the parents out of the picture, as they were super one dimensional and didn’t bring much to the first book except keep you annoyed with them and make you wonder why the girls don’t just run away to some other life. So, yay, no parents this time around.
There were three main POV characters in this, the two sisters and the new character, Abel, a man who is sent to investigate the fraud the sisters uncovered in the first book. Abel, however, isn’t all that he seems and he’s got another purpose for being in Port Saint Frey. There’s actually quite a bit going on plot-wise in this book, and I don’t know that it all comes together for me, some of the sub-plots felt quite random if I’m being completely honest. Like Abel’s love life, for example–what was that all about? Aside from everything going on with Abel–the reason he’s really in town plus the reason he appears to be in town plus his out of the blue love affair with a local…you have Tesara’s plot lines and Yvienne’s plot lines. Tesara is a target of danger, from more than one front–everyone seems to want to kidnap her this time around. And Yvienne is trying to keep her wayward sister out of danger while also running the household and navigating her own potential relationship. Oh, and the town in investigating them because they’re sure they are hiding things. And then they find a body. So…yeah, a lot going on. Kidnappings, murder, attempted murder, thugs, spies, the police get involved, etc. I feel like this would have been just a bit better had it been more of a focused story, especially considering the length, but that’s a relatively minor complaint on my part.
Because there was so very much going on, the pacing of the story was great. This was definitely a page-turner for me, a mark of any good adventure story. I appreciated the few quieter moments, the fantasy of manners aspects, where the girls are navigating the society of Port Saint Frey–those parts were fun for me since that’s sort of my jam.
I do appreciate that we get to know a little more about the magic in the world too. We find out there are others like Tesara out there. And while most fear the unnaturals, there are those people who would put them to work for their own means too. You really get a sense of how dangerous these powers can be, and I like that we got to see some powers other than Tesara’s. I wonder what other types of powers are out there.
Overall, this was a fun ride and I definitely enjoyed it, even if I felt it had the potential to be just a bit better for me if a couple of things had been different. 3.5/5 stars.