This entire sequel does live up to its name. It managed to make it seem even more dangerous for Helen, and that as a woman she still needs her reputation. And it really makes the world seem rather real, with the way that a lot of things are neither black or white or even the truth.
We do begin right after the disastrous ball, with her learning to be a full reclaimer in fact. The entire world isn’t that accepting, Helen has to face quite a bit of prejudice because she’s the first. Her mother neither had the training nor taking part in the actual reclaiming. She was merely a poor vessel used to dump all the darkness into.
As for the constant danger Helen faces, it is indeed a rather realistic presentation. Since she is a woman and during those times, they were more or less sheltered from the world. And expected to be an ornament.
I really liked that this felt that her struggles were real. That when she needed to be trusted, it wasn’t always a given to her. At the same time, the same goes through when it comes to her training. Some believe that she should step back, some believe that a male at her side would do her good.
As for the ship, I don’t really care whether she ends up with Carlston or Selburn. I would rather if she became independent and tried to find another love. Both of them, just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Selburn tries to protect constantly, and it does come off as belittling her rather than actually protecting her. Carlston, I just couldn’t feel their chemistry. Here is where I would want a middle ground, a middle ground between all of them to decide and I would prefer if Helen ended up with neither.
They just don’t feel so fitted with each other.
As for the pacing and the plot, it does quickly moves rather than at the snail’s pace of the previous books. Slowly, Helen needs to make a decision. And every decision has its consequences. And here is where we actually see a lot of the work that Helen needed to do, and actually having to dress as a man. Which is the most interesting part of the book, seeing that men’s dressing clearly needed quite a bit of help too. They clearly couldn’t dress themselves.
As for the way the world views Helen, I would say that it is really realistic if you ask me. She is a woman and she is a reclaimer. And more often than not, they think she would put her emotions first. But in reality, she is trying to do the best she can and making the most sensible decisions as she can.
I would say that this sequel is up to standard with the previous book. And perhaps even better too. As for the romance, I would say it again, I ship no one. But the world is fascinating and interesting given how much it seemed gothic yet completely original in terms of abilities and worldbuliding.
Rating: 4 out of 5