Reviews: Glass Sword and Judged
Young adult fiction is booming, with books discussing topics from sexuality to ecology in genres ranging from the dystopian to the supernatural. Today I’ve selected two authors, both of whom work with fantasy elements to create a memorable series.
Victoria Aveyard’s Glass Sword picks up where the first book, Red Queen, leaves off. In a world run by the superhuman ‘Silvers’, Mare is an anomaly – a Red commoner with the abilities of a Silver. Now, betrayed by her betrothed, Prince Maven, and fleeing with the decimated remnants of the rebellious Scarlet Guard, Mare must show the world the truth.
This is young adult fiction at its most exciting, set in a post-apocalyptic world, which blends technology with magic. Mare is a likable heroine who shoulders the responsibility of leadership naturally, if not gladly. Along with Cal, the crown prince, she is framed for the murder of Cal and Maven’s father, the king, and has to stay ahead of the Silvers while simultaneously searching out other Reds like her.
We got to know Maven pretty well in book one and now it’s Cal’s turn. Aveyard keeps you on your toes – neither prince is clear-cut. While Maven behaves atrociously in this book, Cal’s no saint and Mare is all too aware that if Cal were king, the status quo would remain the same and Reds would still be persecuted. Aveyard reminds us that we’re products of our upbringing and environment, a fact which dictates the princes’ behaviour as well as Mare’s own.
There are a lot of new names in Glass Sword and each character is refreshingly distinct, especially among Mare’s bevy of ‘newbloods’. Characters from Red Queen develop too and we learn a couple of interesting things about Farley, the taciturn Scarlet Guard captain, as well as Shade, Mare’s missing brother.
While the main plot – the gathering of newbloods – takes a while to get going, we do spend some time among the Scarlet Guard, giving us an insight into their politics and procedures. When Mare finds herself locked up by her own people, it’s a stark reminder that no one person is good or evil, and the differences between Red and Silver might not be so great as the world believes.
A thrilling, dark adventure that’s hard to put down, Glass Sword ends on a cliff-hanger, ensuring you’ll want to read on.
Judged is the final book in Liz de Jager's The Blackhart Legacy, which opened with Banished and continued with Vowed. Our heroine is Kit Blackhart, once a normal teenager, now part of a family whose duty it is to protect our world from the Otherwhere, the land of the Fae. We’ve watched Kit grow from an angry, frightened girl to a serious young woman, who comes to accept her responsibilities and learn from her mistakes.
Alongside her friends Dante (a government agent who is more than he seems) and Aiden, a werewolf, Kit’s latest mission is to investigate Glow, a dangerous Fae drug that’s spreading through the human world. The trail takes them to nightclubs, abandoned warehouses, Fae safehouses and the dodgy backstreets of London as Kit and the others attempt to unravel the truth behind Glow and its distributors.
Meanwhile Thorn, prince of Alba and Guardian of the Realms, wrestles with his own problem: the Veil separating the human and Fae worlds is weakening. Its failure would spell catastrophe for mortals and Fae alike. Soon Kit is caught up in this wider issue too, wrestling with her feelings for Thorn and her own erratic powers. Without giving anything away, there’s a nice circularity to the series, as Judged returns us to the climactic setting of Banished, in order to finish what was started.
This is a fun, immensely readable series for anyone into the supernatural, particularly the popular Fae-human tradition. Reminiscent in places of Holly Black’s Tithe, it’s a fiercely modern, topical trilogy full of compelling characters (including plenty of hot guys). De Jager weaves together elements from detective stories, murder mysteries and urban fantasy to create something unique and I’m excited to see where she ventures next.
Lucy Hounsom is a Waterstones bookseller and fantasy author. Her first book Starborn follows the story of seventeen year old Kyndra and is out now in paperback.