I didn’t have the experience of reading this first as a kid, so my reactions are entirely coming from adult Ashley on this one. I mentioned this in a GR status update, but having initially read that first book back in 1994, it felt incredibly strange to finally be picking up the thread of the story again after 28 years.
First, my main complaint on this one, and the reason it’s getting 3.5 stars (rounded up): I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing itself, which felt like it was trying too hard. It didn’t feel natural, it felt like Coville was struggling to inhabit this world (which would make sense, as it took him five years to write this fairly short book). A lot of it felt overly formal.
But the story itself, I actually really liked, and I like where it seems to be going. We pick up directly after the events of the first book, with Cara being sent on a mission to retrieve her grandmother from Earth, to finally let the Wanderer return and rest. This means a quest! And traveling and adventure. We meet another dragon, another magician, and learn some more family secrets and lore of this world. I was genuinely surprised by not one but two plot twists in this book, one of which was reminiscent of how I felt as a kid learning that SPOILERS the Hunter was actually Cara’s father, and that she was descended from Beloved END SPOILERS.
The title of the book comes from a song Cara’s grandmother, Ivy, used to sing. I actually really liked the lyrics, but still got a bit tired of them when they were repeated so much. I wish Coville had been a bit more circumspect and subtle about that.
I’m still mostly holding off judgment on the baddie, Beloved, who we get more of here. She seems a bit over the top for me, and didn’t quite work as a villain. I do like the cultish atmosphere she’s created, though, with her descendants. It’s super creepy. I just wish she read as a bit more human in her motivations.
Hopefully on to books three and four in the fall! I’m holding off so I can read them both back to back. (Book four is out of print and looks like it’s going to cost me more than I think it should, oh well!) (note: I paid $40for the book and it turned out to be an old library copy in just okay condition. SIGH.)