Spoiler warning! This is book two in a duology and it will be absolutely impossible for me to review this book without giving away some spoilers for book one, Of Metal and Wishes. Neither book stands well on its own, and they are clearly meant to be read as a whole. If you like going into books completely unspoiled, skip this review until you’ve finished book one.
It’s been a year since the dramatic events that brought down the entire slaughterhouse where Wen and her father worked. Bo, formerly the Ghost of Gochan One, has now made his home underneath the machine factory of Gochan Two, where he also steals parts for his various inventions. Wen frequently spends much of her early mornings with him, tending to his scars and keeping him company. She’s worried about this new obsession of making himself a mechanical suit, encasing even his healthy body parts in metal armour. She’s also can’t put Melik out of her mind. She knows he and his brother returned to their own people. There is a Noor rebellion raging, they’re no longer content to be oppressed by the Itanyan empire. The factory where Wen works has just received a new, massive order for new war machines, and she realises they are to be used to crush the Noor once and for all.
Leaving behind her father and everything she’s ever known, Wen sneaks out of the factory compound and boards a train toward the border region where the battles have been raging. She needs to try to find Melik and warn him about the upcoming escalation from the Itanyai. Safely away from her former home, she discovers that with the exception of one carriage of civilians, the whole train is full of soldiers disguised as factory workers. The counter-attack on the Noor is clearly happening even sooner than she expected.
When Wen and Melik are finally reunited, there isn’t much resemblance to the thoughtful and courteous young man Wen befriended and started falling for a year ago. Guerilla warfare has changed Melik and he appears cold, callous and ruthless now. Cursing her naivety and foolish infatuation, Wen questions the wisdom of her actions, especially after she finds herself a captive of the Noor who believe her to be an Itanyai spy. They want to take her to their commander, to be questioned, possibly tortured and killed. Was Wen entirely wrong about Melik? Has war so changed him that he will choose his loyalty to the Noor rebellion over his feelings for Wen?
Full review here.