The Quicksilver Court (Rooks and Ruin #2) by Melissa Caruso

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Oh What a Tangled Web

QuicksilverCourt

The Quicksilver Court is the second book in the Rooks and Ruin series by Melissa Caruso and was another entertaining instalment that managed to balance both light and dark elements at the same time as packing an emotional gut punch.

Before starting this review I would say that this will contain spoilers for book 1 so if you haven’t yet read The Obsidian Tower then you might want to make a hasty departure right about now. This is not a drill people – get out of here!  Also, this is not a series that you can jump in part way through.  Reading the first book is essential in my opinion if you’re to have any chance of understanding the dynamics at play here.

So, The Quicksilver Court picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of book 1 and shoots straight out of the gate with impressive pacing.  The Rookery sets off on a journey to the Loreician court, on the face of it they’re searching for a missing demon (Hunger) who may well be infiltrating the Summer Palace, in reality they’re in search of a missing artifact, basically a weapon of mass destruction, politics being as they are though, this is all wrapped up with court etiquette, scheming and guarded conversation – well at least it’s all sugar coated for a little while, until everything goes swiftly downhill.

To be honest, the winning element of both books in this series so far is the characters (in fact the plot plays second fiddle to the characters imo) and in this particular instalment we’re due to learn a heck of a lot more about all of them.  Be prepared.  Caruso manages to include plenty of food for thought here particularly with the inclusion of demons that are not totally bad and humans that are certainly not totally good.  All the Rookery are back, a number of demons that escaped that I won’t name here, other than Hunger of course who we met in No.1.  Severin once again plays a key role and the relationship that started to develop with Ryx gathers pace in a beautifully measured way.  And, Whisper, the enigmatic more-than-a-cat and Ryx’s grandmother, The Lady of Owls.  To be honest there’s such a lot to like here that it would be difficult to pin down a favourite.  Of course Ryx and Severin stand out and the Lady of Owls steals the show a little every time she makes an appearance.

On top of these already familiar characters we have the Queen and her advisor, I don’t want to say too much at this point but expect the unexpected.   Finally, the Zenith Society who have teamed up with Hunger/Aurelio.  The Zenith Society are already known to the Rookery and in fact this particular thread leads to a number of reveals that shine a new light on this previously happy-go-lucky team.

The setting.  Well, we’ve moved to the Summer Palace – I couldn’t help think of the elaborately decorated Palace of Versailles with it’s ostentatious rooms dripping with gilt work and ornamentation.  The setting couldn’t be more different than the Obsidian Tower.  Where Gloamingard is all about the twisted passages and dark mystery the Summer Palace is a place of extreme beauty (although of course it’s about to play host to some despicable beings undertaking despicable acts). I’m going to confess that the setting is one of the elements of this instalment that gave me slightly mixed feelings.  In one respect the setting was well drawn and easy to envisage and in fact really adds an extra layer of creativity to the events that take place BUT – and this is a slight spoiler, this story is contained, or restricted to the one setting (not so much locked room as locked palace). Okay, this is a Palace with extensive grounds but it started to feel slightly repetitive and perhaps even a little incredible in terms of the good guys escaping notice and avoiding trouble in such an enclosed space.

Slight hesitation aside.  What I also really enjoyed here, apart from the characters, twists and turns and the emotional rollercoaster that followed is the strange mix of dark and light -not just in terms of the characters as outlined above but more the jump from humour to horror and back again.  Ryx is a great character to follow.  She isn’t all kickass, unbeatable ‘here I come to save the day’ so much as flying by the seat of her pants, improvising all the way barely staying alive by the skin of her teeth.  What also makes her really good is the real sense of vulnerability that is on display.  She now has friends, and potentially a romantic love interest and whilst this makes her ridiculously happy (when she’s not simply trying to stay alive)  it also places her in the position of having things that she can now lose.

In terms of criticisms.  Apart from the ‘locked palace’ element. This ends on a cliffhanger.  Personally I don’t mind a good cliffhanger although they do make me very anxious to have the next book in my grabby little hands.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Quicksilver Court (Rooks and Ruin #2) by Melissa Caruso

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Quicksilver Court (Rooks and Ruin #2) by Melissa Caruso – because I really enjoyed the Obsidian Tower.  Here’s the description:

QuicksilverCourtThe Quicksilver Court continues the wildly original epic fantasy series bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic that began with The Obsidian Tower.
 
Ryxander, Warden of Gloamingard, has failed. Unsealed by her blood, the Door hidden within the black tower has opened. Now, for the first time since the age of the Graces, demons walk the world.
 
As tensions grow between nations, all eyes-and daggers are set on Morgrain, fallen under the Demon of Discord’s control. In an attempt to save her home from destruction, Ryx and the Rookery set out to find a powerful artifact. But powerful enemies are on the hunt and they’re closing in fast.

Expected publication : October 2021

The Obsidian Tower (Rooks and Ruin #1) by Melissa Caruso

ObsidianMy TL:DR Five Word Review : Dark Tower Keeps Darker Secret

The Obsidian Tower is a book that really surprised me.  To begin with, I cannot deny, that this wasn’t working it’s magic and I had to stop reading about 25% in – to be honest though I think my own personal mood at the time was having an effect on my reading and making it difficult to concentrate.  I left this to one side for a couple of weeks and then gave it another shot and I’m so pleased I decided to take that little book holiday because I ended up loving the Obsidian Tower.

Meet Ryx (Exalted Ryxander) Guardian of Gloaminguard Castle, Vivomancer, granddaughter of The Lady of Owls and quite possibly one of the loneliest people in the world of Eruvia.  Ryx’s magical abilities were twisted beyond recognition following a childhood illness and left her with a unique magical talent that is little more than a curse.  Ryx inadvertently kills everything she touches, well, there are a few exceptions, such as her grandmother, whose own power as a Witch Lord enables her to touch Ryx without death following on fleet feet.  This is the foremost reason why Ryx was in fact moved to Gloaminguard to be raised by the Lady of Owls and to eventually become a guardian and advocate of peace between Vaskandar and the Raverran Serene Empire.  In fact, as the story begins Ryx is about to host an envoy of diplomats in a bid to sign a peace agreement.  Unfortunately, things don’t go quite according to plan and Ryx manages to kill one of her visitors and unlock the power of an ancient artefact that has long fallen under the protection of the Obsidian Tower.  As you may imagine things spiral fairly quickly after that with the arrival of more guests, a murder, a shocking revelation and war threatening to break out at any moment.

What really worked well for me:

Firstly, I really liked a lot of the characters. Ryx is a young woman who has come to terms with her own strange life style.  She has little, to no, human contact and constantly lives in fear of accidentally causing death or destruction.  She has a ‘Midas’ touch of sorts but instead of turning those things she touches into gold, everything she comes into contact with dies, people, plants, animals.  If she so much as brushes against a leaf it withers, she has never ridden a horse or shared a dance with someone.  She lives in fear of causing death and the people around her are scared, they make the sign to ward off evil when she passes by and consequently friends are in short supply.  Ryx is undoubtedly someone that you can enjoy reading about and more than that observing the way her character grows during the course of the book.

Ryx’s grandmother is a great character. She doesn’t play a huge role here, in fact she’s absent for a good portion of the story but you can still feel her influence and she’s really very intriguing, not to mention she really brings every scene that she enters to life – as does Whisper. Whisper is difficult to pin down.  A creature of shadow who can move easily between places. Whisper knows things and keeps secrets.  The Rookery is an organisation that investigate all sorts of things and provide answers and solutions.  They’re neutral and their involvement helps to keep things a little more amicable.  They’re a fun group of people, nerdy, fiercely loyal and with bags of tricks sitting in reserve which makes them surprisingly effective against the most difficult of odds. The Rookery definitely bring a ‘lighter’ element to the read which is very much welcome.

Now add in some of the darker characters of the story. Severin is brother to the Lord of Alevar whose fiance was killed at the start of the story when attempting to unlock the secrets of Gloaminguard and he is now hell bent on revenge.  Severin is visiting the Castle as his brother’s agent to discover who the murderer is.  I will add in a possible spoiler here so be aware – Severin and Ryx share some chemistry and I’m going to surprise you (and myself) by admitting that I really enjoyed this aspect of the story and would definitely like more.  Yes, that’s right, I’m asking for more romance – yes indeedy. Severin and his brother have a difficult relationship and, lets just be honest, Severin is scared of the Wolf Lord, with good reason so it will be interesting to see how he develops.

On top of becoming invested in the characters I really enjoyed the world building.  Gloaminguard is a fascinating castle full of twisted passages and dark mystery. The surrounding woods themselves answer to the magic of the Lady of Owls and lend her a lot of power, as do the surroundings that fall within the domain of the other Lords.  There are politics at play here and the need to tread carefully in order to avoid an incident or, more to the point, a war.

Then finally, there’s the pacing, the ever increasing tension and the sensation of being flung from one crisis to the next whilst trying to undertake an investigation and make everywhere safe.

In terms of criticisms, I think one of my main issues when I started reading was that there was a certain degree of ‘telling’ not ‘showing’ particularly where Ryx was concerned.  I also think I found myself angry on her behalf – she was blaming herself for a death that wasn’t really her fault.  She had an awful childhood and very little family support and it turns out that the magic that kept everyone at bay could have been countered by wearing a Jess – a magic bracelet that holds the wearer’s own magic in check.  As Ryx’s magic was not of any use to her family and she was foisted off on her grandmother as a last resort – then why not use the Jess?  I don’t understand that aspect if I’m being totally honest.  But, these things weren’t deal breakers for me and certainly didn’t spoilt the read and there might be more answers in the next book in the series.

A murder, an investigation, a secret and dangerous magical artefact.  There is much here to love and on top of this a bunch of diverse characters that you can really develop feelings for.  There’s a lot here to enjoy and it makes me very keen to see where the next instalment takes us.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars