Publisher: Saga Press
Page Count: 400
Release Date: April 19th, 2022
Series: BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY, Book 2
Rating: 2.75/5 Stars – Didn’t Like It
Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can read reviews for those books here: BLACK SUN
After the massacre at Sun Rock, the city of Tova is in chaos. A permanent eclipse hangs over the city, and rumor says it’s the result of the Crow God’s return. A power vacuum in the city has left the clans scrambling to try and consolidate their power, while new factions emerge from the shadows. But unbeknownst to Tova, the city’s fate may not be decided by its inhabitants, but by a summit happening in a few weeks time – the same day as a comet that signifies the death of a leader and the rise of a new order.
FEVERED SUN is a meandering follow-up to the stellar BLACK SUN, a sequel that left me a bit perplexed at how little it made me feel. I couldn’t be more shocked by my reaction – or rather – lack of reaction to this entry. BLACK SUN made a notable impression on me and Roanhorse has been a favorite author of mine since her captivating character work in TRAIL OF LIGHTNING. Yet here, I just couldn’t connect to anyone. It likely didn’t help that Okoa and Naranpa take more of a lead role this time, with my favorites Serapio and Xiala coming in secondary.
My struggles with FEVERED STAR may be a huge case of “it’s not you, its me.” While the book does include a cast of characters up front, it pretty much picks up from the ending of BLACK SUN without any kind of recap or hand-holding in the early chapters. It’s been over a year and a half since I read the first book, and upon diving into FEVERED STAR, I immediately found myself floundering to recall the political structure of Tova, as well as who was allied with who and what schemes were already underfoot. After considerable skim-reading of the ending of BLACK SUN, I was able to get myself situated, but my enjoyment of FEVERED STAR likely would have been a lot higher if I hadn’t spent so much time trying to reorient myself.
I wrestle with how much to attribute that as a flaw of the book versus my own failing. On the one hand, if BLACK SUN was fresh in my brain, if I’d given it a reread, I probably would have had a better time with FEVERED STAR. But at the same time, isn’t it at least partially the author’s responsibility to help the reader (especially one who read the first book at its original release date) find their way back into the elegant world they created?
To the book’s credit, it does move at a brisk speed; even with my floundering and skim-reading of BLACK SUN, I finished it in just a few days. The magic continues to be a highlight, especially as various characters deepen their relationships to respective gods. I continue to very much enjoy this fantasy world that draws from the myths and cultures of peoples indigenous to the Americas. For those who enjoy political fantasy, that is a heavy part of the book; events at the end of BLACK SUN left a huge power vacuum in the capital city, and multiple factions inside the city and without are trying to capitalize on it.
But all that positioning felt like just that: positioning. I couldn’t quite grasp what climax the story was driving towards. Ostensibly, certain groups are heading towards a summit that is happening the day a comet will pass through the sky, but that was almost an afterthought. Every moment of BLACK SUN reminded you of the impending deadline of the eclipse, telling you how many days away it was so the pressure ratcheted up with every passing page. In contrast, there was no sense of urgency in FEVERED STAR, no ticking clock.
I would not be surprised at all if I end up being in the minority for my feelings towards FEVERED STAR. I got off on the wrong foot from the start and the book never quite won me back. I haven’t written off the final book in the series. If anything I want to reread BLACK SUN and FEVERED STAR before the third book’s release in the hopes that this was just a big misunderstanding between me and a book I was prepared to love. But it might be safe to be warned: after the gripping pacing of BLACK SUN, FEVERED STAR left me a bit cold.
Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.