Bronwyn Eley’s RIVEN is the second book in her #loveozya fantasy series, and picks up right where the first book, Relic, left us. It’s always a bit tricky to talk about a second book without getting spoilery, so I’m not going to share the synopsis here in case you haven’t read Relic (you can click here to check it out on the Talem website though!), but I will say that in Riven we continue to follow heroine Kaylan as she deals with the consequences of her actions in the first book and sets out on a journey to learn more about the mysterious and powerful Relics.
I enjoyed Relic (my review is here) and I think Riven is even better. There is something more controlled about the writing and the way the story unfolds in this one. I really liked the way the setting of the story expanded, from Relic being set in the city of Edriast (and mostly inside the castle) to joining Kaylan as she ventures outside the city walls for the first time.
The world building continues to be strong in this sequel, and I loved learning more about the Relics. I feel like a kind of intimacy builds between Kaylan and the reader throughout the story, as we not only see the story from her POV and also get a glimpse into her dreams (and hallucinations), but also in the way that we are learning about her world and the Relics at the same time as she does.
There are some fantastic characters in Riven, a mix of familiar faces and new favourites. Something about the way Eley writes her characters, perhaps the fact that no one is really all good or all bad, had me wondering all the way through about which of her companions Kaylan could really trust, and who was going to turn out to be against her. I feel like the shades of grey we see in the characters really adds to the feeling of being torn and conflicted that we see in Kaylan – it really feels hard to know what to do and who to trust.
There is a lot of action in this one – Relic had some dark moments in kind of torture-y ways, as Rennard used his Relic against those he saw as enemies, and while there is some of that in Riven too there is also quite a bit of just full on sword-fighting battle gore. I liked the way that this ended – a lot happens in the last third or so of the book and I was nervous that we were going to have a big cliff hanger situation, but I think the break in the story is in a spot that has left me satisfied but ready for more, if that makes sense?
I really think fans of Relic are going to enjoy this one, and if you’re a lover of YA fantasy but haven’t picked up the series yet I’d recommend checking it out!
Riven by Bronwyn Eley
Out 13 August from Talem Press
Source: Thank you to Talem Press for sending me a digital copy in exchange for a review.
Category: Dark YA low magic fantasy adventure with a twist of dystopia