The sequel and new covers!
The sequel to the most epic novel by my favourite indie/ self-published author is here and I have read it!
This review will be entirely spoiler-free for both the first and second books, so you won’t have to worry if you haven’t read either (yet).
Goodreads Summary Blood will spill. Death awaits ... But who will pay the price? The battle for Renlock may be won, but the war for Everosia is far from over. As the darkness recoups from his losses, the Guardians hasten towards the Diodon Mountains in search of the next member of their order. Plagued by visions and experiencing losses of her own, Ashalea is faced with overwhelming odds as she struggles to overcome her inner demons ... and those of her family. But a series of mistakes might well be her downfall, and some actions can never be undone. Divided by her secrets and worlds away from saving, the Guardians must forge separate paths to reach the same goal. But that's the least of their problems. The darkness wants something from Ashalea ... and he doesn't ask nicely.
The Guardians of The Grove series has replaced the Rondo Series as my new favourite comfort series! I read the first book Vengeance Blooms in January after seeing it on Chloe Hodge’s beautiful Instagram account!
She also answered my burning questions about Vengeance Blooms in an interview on my blog. I didn’t even realise this was going to be longer than two books and after this one, I am so so hyped for the rest of the novels!
★ Rating ★
I rated this book ★★★★☆ (3.75/5 stars) because frankly, it deserves it! This rating is a mix of my intense feelings and love for this series and the happiness it has brought me; plus my criticality of the storyline and characters that will be further discussed in the review.
When the new covers of these books were announced on Chloe Hodge’s Instagram I fangirled out loud! I was super excited to get my hands on these – especially the sequel – that I once again purchased the eBook as well as a physical copy!
We pick up from the previous novel, following Ashalea and her companions – Wezlan, Denevar and Shara – cleaning up the ruins of Renlock Academy. Death and mourning are in the air but so is determination and revenge.
Their objective, already established from the first novel, is to find the next guardian. This takes our team across Everosia and into dangerous territory in order to meet with the most secretive and well-hidden race in the entire province.
There were points in the journey where the characters seemed to have figured things out too easily, or maybe I’m so used to characters being put under more pain and torment due to everything going wrong, prolonging their journey.
Although with every twist, turn and tunnel the characters went through, they came out the other end with stronger relationships and a lesson learnt. My favourite part of this novel was the development of the relationship between Razakh and Shara.
Shara’s journey and point of view (as this is a multiple point of view novel), takes up most of the novel. When I say this made me so happy, I mean it made me the happiest girl alive! Seriously! Shara is my favourite character in this series!!
Nothing makes my stupid little heart happier than to have my favourite angsty female assassin have her moment to shine throughout the entire novel. I loved watching her grow and understand her feelings as she interacts with new people and species.
Agh! I don’t want to add any spoilers, plus I’m horrid at talking about this without floundering about like a fangirl, so I’m going to move on with the review… While still internally daydreaming about a relationship with Shara (oops).
Retribution Dies is a novel that is almost cut into two events. I didn’t realise it until I was writing this review and recalling what I read. Since the start of the novel takes place immediately after the events of the first, it is easy to mistake it as part of the first novel. This is nice as there is a seamless transition between the novels.
The second part of this book is indicated by the party setting off on their journey to find the Diodonians. The mood changes here (because of events) which shifts the course of the novel and you know shit is going to go down!
Bringing it back to Shara again… I’m sorry but she was just so amazing in this novel!!!
Shara and Denavar’s friendship is iconic and refreshing for a fantasy novel. They banter and brawl along the journey, breaking up what would usually be a boring travel montage or cracking through a grim train of thought Ashalea might be having.
The banter, though not common between party members in High Fantasy novels is such a fun aspect and something I enjoyed a lot. It shows that our protagonists aren’t just heartless and revenge-filled but actually human. They want happiness once all is said and done, sure! But that doesn’t mean they can’t have happiness now, because we all know that laughter is a better cure of the blues compared to murder or the like.
Honestly, I loved this book. I loved the journey, the characters, their development and all that; but truly, I love how it has the potential to grow and expand and improve. I picked up Vengeance Blooms on a whim and this sequel has been with me through such a hard time, kept me same and given me more Shara, and for that I am thankful.
Now I’m getting a little meta, but Chloe Hodge being the wonderful person she is, takes on feedback like it’s her job! That is the best attitude to have as an author and I truly know that her writing will continue to grow and improve and we will see this with this series. I’m warning you!
I cannot wait for the third book in the series!
I would love to thank Chloe for reaching out and chatting with me about my thoughts on the novel. She is so accepting of feedback which makes my nerdy heart so happy! Please be kind to authors (and content creators in general) and provide make all your criticism constructive or positive.
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See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).