After the harrowing events at the end of Wither, Rhine and Gabriel are on the run with their life, with Master Vaughn, Linden’s father, fast on their tail.
But freedom isn’t so easily attained in this dystopian world, Rhine quickly realises, as she stumbles upon a scarlet circus, run by a woman who will not let Rhine out of her sight. As Rhine tries to adjust to life in this sick and twisted place, she realises her plan to escape to Manhattan to find her brother Rowan isn’t going to be easy as she thought it was going to be.
As Rhine and Gabriel finally escape the circus, they are shocked to discover the wasteland of a country that lies at their feet, a wasteland that they never experienced in the lush lifestyle of Linden’s house, making them question how high a price they’re willing to pay for freedom…
This was a bit hard to get into in the beginning, since it had been almost a year since I read Wither and I couldn’t remember some of the names of the minor characters. Like with her previous book, I enjoyed DeStefano’s writing style and lush descriptions. It is a bit vague and wordy, but for this story, it worked beautifully.
The beginning part of this book made me sick and dizzy. I have to commend DeStefano on this though, since I think this was the effect she was going for. Life in the circus is intoxicating and filled with smoke, and I felt this dizzying sensation exactly and felt like I was there in the circus. It might have worked a bit too well at times though, because I had to put it down in the middle of reading, in the first hundred or so pages.
Rhine continues to be a strong character. She’s not sure what she’s doing, and she’s filled with doubts and regrets, especially since things haven’t exactly gotten better since their escape. She’s naive and thinks things are simple, and this leads to her downfall and her new awakening to the world.
The plot of this book was a bit wayward. Since Rhine and Gabriel are on the run, you don’t know where they’ll end up next, and this can be seen as a plus point, but also as something negative. Some of the clues about what was going to happen next were a bit clunky, once you realised DeStefano’s technique of pushing the story forward.
Gabriel continued to irritate me in this story. Despite the fact that he’s the one who’s constantly with our protagonists for the majority of the story, he’s barely there. Other than his various body ailments, I don’t really know him and have a hard time understanding his motivations. He was a cardboard cut-out in Wither and he remained one here as well.
The ending is what sort of soured things for me. Its kind of obvious that Rhine will return to Linden’s house (at least it was for me), but the way it happened and all the CRAZINESS that happens right after, it was a bit much. Given that not much happens throughout most of the book, its a bit crazy how everything becomes so intense and everything just starts to come together.
The world-building, again like Wither, doesn’t make sense to me with this series. I still don’t quite understand how the whole world (other than America) disappeared and how things became quite to this state.
With that said, I did enjoy the book, but this series doesn’t have that ‘wow’ factor for me, unfortunately. But do try it out, you might think otherwise.
Thanks for reading,