In this sequel to The Storyspinner, Johanna and Rafi are on their way to the wall that separates the land of Santarem from the land of the Keepers. Her mere presence as heir can help repair the damage done to the barrier. Rafi, as the soon-to-be lord of the province of Santiago, wants to keep Johanna safe — and is also sure the two of them can do much good for Santarem. Johanna, however, having been raised as a Performer, really just wants to get back to a simple life and at least be with her surviving younger brother. She has strong feelings for Rafi, but she is afraid his overtures to her about a life together are more about what’s best for the country, rather than just being about a boy loving a girl.
As they try to stay alive and out of the clutches of the dangerous and powerful Keepers who seek to take control of all of Santarem, Jacare and his trusted Keeper traveling companions are trying to get back to the sides of Johanna and Rafi and find a way to defeat the enemy, who are growing more powerful every day. Rafi’s younger brother, Dom, meanwhile, is trying to lead and defend Santiago in Rafi’s absence. He’s also trying to discern and thwart the machinations of the visiting daughter of the duke of Maringa, who is clearly spying, but is it for the right side? Can he possibly trust her?
Plenty is going on in this conclusion to the two-book tale: danger, intrigue, magic and secrets. The story follows several threads from various perspectives and pulls them all together at the end. I enjoyed this second as much as the first and am still impressed with the skill of the writer.
Rated: Mild, for one use of mild language and a fair amount of violence. There are lots of fights, involving swords and daggers and some magic. Blood is mentioned fairly often. It’s frequent enough I’d almost lean toward making this a moderate, at least for younger readers. Sexual content is limited to a few kissing scenes.