Published: July 9th, 2013
Raven Flight (Shadowfell # 2)
By: Juliet Marillier
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Neryn has finally found the rebel group at Shadowfell, and now her task is to seek out the elusive Guardians, vital to her training as a Caller. These four powerful beings have been increasingly at odds with human kind, and Neryn must prove her worth to them. She desperately needs their help to use her gift without compromising herself or the cause of overthrowing the evil King Keldec.
Neryn must journey with the tough and steadfast Tali, who looks on Neryn's love for the double agent Flint as a needless vulnerability. And perhaps it is. What Flint learns from the king will change the battlefield entirely—but in whose favor, no one knows.
Neryn is finally with the rebels at Shadowfell, but now she must prepare to leave and seek out the four Guardians for her training as a Caller. It is imperative that she be trained in the ways of her gift, especially when it becomes clear to everyone that the war will come sooner than they had originally hoped. With the companionship of gruff and reluctant Tali (who would rather stay behind to guard and guard the leader of the rebellion instead) traveling with her and the intermittent help of the Good Folk along the way, things still are harsh and dangerous. Can Neryn manage to keep momentum until her task is complete or will she fail and bring down the cause with her? Also, Flint is still playing double agent to evil King Keldec and with the annual 'festival' approaching his loyalty will be called into question - with potentially devastating results. Can Flint and Neryn both survive long enough to make it back to each other?
I thought the first book in this series was decent, so when I spotted this up on Netgalley I requested it. Just to see if there was a chance Marillier could make me fall in love with this series. I honestly feel just as ambivalent as ever about everything to do with it. This book spends most of it's time with long-winded description, little action can be found in the plot and even with an especially big cliffhanger/shocking plot twist near the end I still felt like saying, 'so what?' Neryn doesn't get on my nerves quite as much as she did in Shadowfell, but I still don't like her enough for her to carry an entire book for me. This novel didn't have the harsh strength of Flint as her counterpoint to balance things. Instead it introduced Tali, a guard from the rebel camp who slowly by the end of the book becomes a friend and comes to play a more important role in the uprising.
I just felt like this book had next to no conflict, in terms of moving forward the plot. Most of it meanders dreamily with a feeling of disconnect. The few big events (the encounter with Enforcers, the grisly 'festival' and the surprise violence near the end) do little to break up the monotony of the book, which is mostly a really boring travelogue with a semi-interesting account of a friendship that develops between the two girls. The Good Folk were another disappointment, with their lack of any real resistance to being enlisted into the troubles of men. After the conflict within their own ranks over whether or not to help Neryn in the first book, in this one they pretty much agree straightaway. It felt like Marillier didn't want to bother with giving any more of them TRULY distinct personalities as Neryn's friends (excepting a couple she names close to the end) and having to spend more time on them in the future. It all came across as very stilted and forced to me as a reader. And yes, the Neryn and Flint relationship felt somewhat contrived as well. In the first book I never pegged him as having the same depth of feeling that Neryn did - in this one her borders on reckless desperation during his scant scenes in the book. Overall, mediocre at best and boring with a touch of annoying at worst. I probably won't be reading the third book (unless I decide to torture myself, like I do a good majority of the time anyways) and would only recommend to die-hard Marillier fans.
VERDICT: 2.5/5 Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published on July 9th, 2013.*