Graven Idols by Jessica Dall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was going to dive right into Graven Idols, read the first page, then realised I didn't have a clue what happened in the first book anymore. So I went back to Raining Embers and skimmed through it to figure out what was going on.
Graven Idols takes off right after the end of Raining Embers, with Brier and Palmer holed up in the Augarian palace along with Nico and Rosette. Tensions are high - it's a war zone, supplies are low, the army is in charge - especially between that strange triangle of Brier, Palmer and Nico. Nico and Brier are struggling through the remnants of their estranged engagement; Nico and Palmer relate best when they don't see each other; and Brier and Palmer are trying process what they've been through for that past year and what it means to them even whilst struggling through the fact that as Brier's mental condition deteriorates, Palmer's powers grow increasingly erratic and neither of them know why.
There's a lot to take in, with multiple threads running through the story, making nothing as simple or as innocent as it seems. Dall gives you a running start, dazzles you with all the things that are happening and then peaks, before dropping you into a strange in-between, where it feels like everything has slowed down. Maybe it's ending, you've climaxed, so the denouement is next, yes? Only there's another 20% left to the book... this is the part that lost it a bit for me. It felt a little too slow, like I know something is coming up, but it's taking too long. And when the final end came, it felt a little flat. Tense, but not gripping enough; sweet, but not satisfying enough. Maybe it peaked too early.
(Comparison: Tolkien does this in Return of the King. He reaches an end, and then meanders on, tying up loose ends to come to a final conclusion that hits home. Then again, that's the end of a trilogy. This isn't. There's something more to come - I hope? - so it felt a little draggy.)
What I'm especially curious about though is Rosette. It seems like there are many gods blossoming up all over the place, each tied to an ancient god or order, but no one seems to know exactly who or what Rosette is yet. Maybe in the third book...?
Overall, I enjoyed Graven Idols.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Read my review of Raining Embers HERE.
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