Stubborn Evil in Kingdom of Sea and Stone | Book Review

Kingdom of Sea and Stone
by Mara Rutherford

book two in the Crown of Coral & Pearl series

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Author: Mara Rutherford
Published: October 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Pages: 368 [hardback]

Review on Goodreads

Thank you to Inkyard Press for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!


Initial Thoughts upon Finishing

A great sequel to the series! This really picked up the pace and I flew through it. I really loved the character development in this book too, Nor is such a boss!

What it’s about (spoilers for book one)

Kingdom of Sea and Stone dives straight back into the action after the first book following a trail of chaos that made up the glorious events of book one. From the get-go we are not to be disappointed.

After the horror and stress of Nor escaping from Prince Ceren (in a rather bloody fashion), she is now on the run with Talin and on a mission to get the woman king into power and make sure Ceren stays dead. A trickier task than anyone could have ever anticipated.

We find ourselves beginning our journey back in Varenia where Nor and Zadie are reunited. Sami has gone missing and Zadie is very worried about what has happened to him. Nor is wracked with guilt that her actions of going in Zadie’s place seem to have done more damage than good, and now she’s faced with even more tough decisions to stop the kingdom falling apart and save everyone she loves.

A damn good sequel

If you’re looking for that series that FINALLY keeps things exciting and amazing and awesome, this is it. I was so delighted by how much I enjoyed book one and that book two continued to deliver and didn’t get old. I confess going into this somewhat wary and unsure what direction the story would take, but Rutherford has explored the furthest reaches of this fantastical land in the best ways possible.

We are always on the go in this book and the character development is *muah*. I loved the quest-style story with many horses involved and just the right amount of sexual tension between Talin and Nor to keep us on our toes. It simultaneously delightful and stressful.

My favourite thing? Romance is not the be all end all. I repeat: we have a strong female lead who does not put romance and pretty boys ahead of more important duties. CAN I GET A HECK YEAH?! This drove the story in all the right directions. Nor is able to keep her head on straight and appreciate Talin in small doses that are both delightfully teasing and leave enough room for real action and storylines to take place. This was a huge thumbs up from me.

My favourite part of this story was this strong portrayal of female characters. Women really take front and centre in this book: whether it’s Nor putting duty ahead of self, Zadie proving that marriage/motherhood is a valid vocation, a woman king trying to take the throne, or the unquestionable love of a mother—every basis is covered.

Moreover, sapphic relationships!! They are here!! We have one new character introduced into this story who brings in a nice bit of diversity to really ground this book in the good stuff. I really loved this new character and I WISH we got to spend even more time with her—but I won’t say anything more than the fact she is basically a witchdoctor because I’ll let you discover all that goodness for yourself (there’s also a cat (okay I’m done)).

Summary

Am so satisfied with this book. A beautifully little duology that potentially has room for more stories if Rutherford ever wanted to expand on this world and write something from someone else’s perspective. This definitely makes me think of what Cashore has done with the Graceling series by using different characters to explore different regions. That would make me veeeerry happy.


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