YA Fantasy Mini Reviews | The Everlasting Rose and We Set the Dark on Fire

Posted July 15, 2019 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 1 Comment

YA Fantasy Mini Reviews | The Everlasting Rose and We Set the Dark on FireThe Everlasting Rose (The Belles, #2) by Dhonielle Clayton
Also by this author: Tiny Pretty Things, Shiny Broken Pieces (Tiny Pretty Things, #2), The Belles (The Belles #1)
Published by Freeform on March 5, 2019
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 344 •Format: HardcoverSource: Gifted

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia's Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider's Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.

It pains me to rate The Everlasting Rose this way. If you’ve been around my blog the past couple of years, you’ve likely heard me shout about my love for The Belles, and my proclamations that it’s one of my favorite fantasy novels at all time. So it’s heartbreaking for me to report that the sequel fell so flat for me, especially as one of my most anticipated 2019 titles. Max pre-ordered it for me as a birthday gift, and right away I was surprised to see that it looked significantly shorter than its predecessor. Picking up after the conclusion of The Belles, the story mostly featured Camille on the run from Sophia and her tyrannical government. I was personally hoping that this novel would go more into the backstory of the Belles, how their powers worked, etc. However, it was mostly just Camille running from place to place, a underdeveloped feeling romance, and a rushed conclusion that brought it a secret society that felt very rushed. I simultaneously felt like barely anything happened yet it dragged and I wasn’t motivated to pick it up.

Overall: While I still stand by the incredible writing and lush descriptions of The Belles, The Everlasting Rose proved disappointing and not memorable in comparison.

YA Fantasy Mini Reviews | The Everlasting Rose and We Set the Dark on FireWe Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 26, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian
Pages: 384 •Format: E-BookSource: Overdrive

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

So sad story, I was hoping to hear Tehlor Kay Mejia on a panel at ALA but it was too close to my flight time so I had to skip it to head to the airport. I had heard great buzz about the author and title in advance, and I was super bummed I missed the event! When I finally picked up We Set the Dark on Fire it was clear that the hype around this title is so well deserved. I’d heard it pitched as a Latinx, YA The Handmaid’s Tale and the story definitely had those roots while still bringing it’s own unique voice and ideas to the tale. It also reminded me of the recent release Girls with Sharp Sticks (which is great- I am totally here for these dystopian boarding school feminist reads!)

Set in a dystopian world (or is it with the way things are going, amirite???) it follows protagonist Dani who has attended school her whole life to take her place alongside a husband as his “Primera”- his main wife who is proper at all times and runs the household. Meanwhile, she’s assigned to a household and husband that she must share with her nemesis Carmen, a Segunda (basically the second wife who is more like a mistress and does the childbearing in the relationship). The parallels in this structure to the The Handmaid’s Tale is obvious, but I loved the modern and Latinx twist! The government is predictably corrupt and Dani and Carmen’s husband is close to the heart of it, rumored to be the next president to a nation that denies the pleas of the poor and underprivileged outside of the borders of the city and blames its views on antiquated myths and folklore as an excuse. The story feels uncomfortably close to many current political events going on right now and is timely in its social commentary. It also juxtaposes the cruelty and corruption with a phrase out of Dani and Carmen’s school handbook at each chapter heading, further reinforcing how the society and government normalize their corrupt actions and structure and brainwash female students into submission.

Overall: There’s a lot of elements of this story I love but I don’t want to get into because they delve into spoiler territory, as there’s quite a few mystery elements in the novel, especially considering where certain characters’ loyalties lie. I think this is going to be the start of a GREAT series and it’s making me enjoy dystopian again!


One response to “YA Fantasy Mini Reviews | The Everlasting Rose and We Set the Dark on Fire

  1. Oh no I’m so sorry to hear The Everlasting Rose was so disappointing 🙁 I really enjoyed the first book in the series and have been looking forward to reading that sequel, I think I might lower my expectations a little bit now. Thank you for the heads up about it!
    I’m so happy you enjoyed We Set The Dark On Fire, it’s one of my favorite reads this year, I LOVED IT so, so much 🙂
    Fantastic reviews! <3

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