ARC Book Review: The Skylighter by Becky Wallace

Posted March 13, 2016 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: The Skylighter by Becky WallaceThe Skylighter by Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers' Chronicles #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 22nd, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.

As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.

And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?

With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.

4 Stars

The Storyspinner was without a doubt one of my favorite 2015 debuts. It completely enthralled me with its fun characters, fast-paced plot, and engrossing writing style. And with the mild cliffhanger ending, of course I couldn’t wait for the sequel. Well. It’s finally here. And it did NOT disappoint.

The action picks up right where it left off in The Storyspinner – so it might be a good idea to reread at least the last couple of chapters before you dive in here. Whereas I feel like the first book mostly centered on the characters and their relationships against a backdrop of political intrigue, The Skylighter is all about action. War is coming to Santiago, Johanna and Rafi are on the run from the Nata, Pira is captured and undergoes heavy torture from Vibora… There’s so much happening all around. And the characters go their different ways before meeting up again in the end – so lots of separate storylines, but the pacing is pitch perfect. Wallace switches with ease and keeps you on the edge of your seat, genuinely curious about each character’s journey.

First off, there’s Johanna and Rafi. You’d think, given the nice ending in The Storyspinner that these two are now going to be happy in love even as they’re running for their lives, but that’s not exactly the case. Though they both recognize having feelings for each other, they also each have duties to the country and their people. So… things get complicated. Yeah. I know. I kind of hit my head against a wall too, because SERIOUSLY WILL YOU GUYS JUST KEEP KISSING FOREVER KISSING AND JUST JUST OKAY? To say I have shippy feels would be a massive understatement. As they get into dangerous situations and MORTAL PERIL (that prison scene, omg, omg, the tears) the amount that they care for each other keeps growing and the emotions just became too much to bear. But it was beautiful. From A to Z. (But seriously, more kissing please.)

The Skylighter also introduces a new POV character: Dom, Rafi’s brother. And I was first kind of confused, like why was he being brought into it now? But seriously, Wallace excels at characterization, because I cared so much about him in pretty much no time. With Rafi gone, taking care of Santiago rests on Dom’s thoroughly unprepared shoulders. But boy does he work hard for it, feeling the duty to his people. He’s in the trenches, helping them prepare for Belem’s invasion, and he’s thrust into the political game. There is a bit of romance on that side too – which one could potentially classify as a triangle construction, but MAN I ended up liking it so much. But things don’t come easy for Dom, especially when it turns out that there’s a spy within his domain. There was a betrayal I did NOT expect. And it pretty much broke my heart.

Then, of course, there’s also Pira and Leão. They have it rough in this book – particularly Pira. The torture she faces is pretty freaking terrifying. However, the loyalty Leão feels towards her, which drives him to go after her, is adorable. I do feel like they kind of got the short end of the stick in this book. Yeah, they faced some of the worst stuff, but they also as a result got the least page time, and I would have liked to at least see more after the ending from them.

There are still a couple things that logically could have been stronger. Though he gets so many chapters for his own POV, I still care so little about Jacaré – maybe because he reveals next to nothing about his own history. He’s just like this grumpy little bulldog. And, yeah, I dunno. The world building, while not riddled with plot holes or confusion, could be stronger. At times, distances and the time it took to travel seemed to be glossed over a bit (but I didn’t have my map handy). View Spoiler » The magic seemed a bit random at times, but it did lead to EPIC battles with high, high stakes, so I’m rather okay with that. There *could* have been more kissing (seriously omg so many ships, so little kissing)… But that’s a personal issue.

Summing Up:

I loved The Storyspinner and The Skylighter more than I can adequately express. They’re both solid stories with dynamic, complex characters, wonderful ships, and fast-paced, exciting plots. Wallace is an author to watch out for. Seriously. It takes talent to create a whole new world, fill it with incredible characters, weave 6 POVs and storylines together, and ultimately create a perfectly paced, engrossing story. Whatever she comes out with next – I want it.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Both newbies to fantasy and fans of classic fantasy adventure stories. Sherry Thomas’s The Elemental Trilogy may be the best comparison title I can come up with (because awesome characters + ships = ♥).

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