This is the second book of The Sentinel Wars by Shannon K. Butcher. I was sent these by the publisher, Penguin, for review. This series is about a race of warriors who protect the human race and the world from monsters called the Synestryn.
The Premise: When Andra Madison was a teenager, her family was attacked by monsters. Ever since then, Andra’s been caring for her sister Nika, the only surviving member of her family who has been so traumatized, she needs constant care in a mental institution. Now Andra makes her living by saving kids who are taken by these monsters. Paul is a Theronai, one of the Sentinel races, who has been searching for a woman that has the right bloodline to be his companion. The Theronai fight against the Synestryn, but it’s been a difficult battle because their race is getting older and their women are extremely rare. If Paul doesn’t find the right match, his soul will perish, and he will become a monster himself. Paul is looking for such a match with Logan, a Sanguinar (sort of vampire), and Madoc, another Theronai warrior, when they find Andra fighting the Synestryn. Somehow Andra has the right bloodline to be a possible match.
My Thoughts: This book has less set up than the first book, Burning Alive, because it’s assumed that the reader knows the world and what’s been happening. There’s references to the Theronai and the Synestryn monsters without having to go into detail about them. I thought this was a positive. In the first book there was a lot of explanation about what was going on which didn’t need to be delved into again here. Instead it gets straight into the action and more time is spent on some of the longer running story arcs which will be ongoing throughout the series. On the other hand, this means if you haven’t read book one, you will be lost, so I recommend that if you want to read this series, you start with the first book, Burning Alive.
The heroine in this book is a fighter since she’s been killing the Synestryn and saving children for many years. I liked that her focus was on her sister and helping Nika get better. It made her a sympathetic character and it made her motivations for going to the Theronai stronghold so that they could see what was wrong with Nika, believable. Andra already knows about the monsters, so compared the the heroine in the first book, she doesn’t need much convincing about the existence of inhuman races that fight the evil creatures. At times however, I thought she could be a little too accepting and hardly blinked an eye at some of the concepts that should have been new to and strange to her. For example – the idea of magic through the bond with Paul. She doesn’t question that it’s possible and tries it out for herself, easily mastering the concept. It pushed on the boundaries of my disbelief that although her first try exhausted her, only a day or so later she is doing so much more with it, based on a couple of sentences of instruction.
While Andra was a very different heroine from the first book, I thought that Paul was really similar to the first hero, Drake. Except for a lost love that makes Paul more careful in his relationship with Andra, the two warriors were practically interchangeable in my mind. There wasn’t as much character development for the men as there is for the women. As in the first book, there’s more over-the-top male protectiveness from all the Theronai men (“It kills me to see you suffer”) melded with a tragic hero image.
The heat level in this book is higher than what I normally read. There are a couple of marathon sex scenes in here which corresponds to what I’ve come to expect since reading the first book (two pages just on a kiss, so extrapolate that). For those who like a steamy sex scene, this book will deliver.
Again, I seem to like the secondary characters and story lines more than the primary ones. The secondary character of Madoc, a Theronai warrior who is hiding the fact that his soul really is withering away, was more interesting. Madoc’s romance is suggested but I don’t know if his story is sequel bait or not (there are a lot of Theronai men introduced that I suspected as sequel bait). Meanwhile the story of Sybil, who I found fascinating in the first book is expounded upon here and I liked where it went quite a bit.
While I liked this book a bit better than the first one, it suffers from some of the same flaws. The biggest issue I have is that the story can be overwrought and sometimes it feels like things are put in there for dramatic effect, but they don’t make much logical sense. I already went into the way Andra used magic, but here’s another example: the hero and heroine mutually thinking that they are not worthy of each other. Anara thinks she’s at fault that her mother and two sisters were attacked by monsters and she couldn’t save them. This doesn’t make sense, how was she supposed to save them from a bunch of monsters she knew nothing about? It makes even less sense that her failure at protecting the people she loves is the reason she pushes Paul away. Everyone she loves gets hurt, so she should push him away. She says this consistently, yet suddenly changes her mind in a very convenient moment. Meanwhile, Paul tries to make Andra stay with him with his power, until he stops himself. Andra forgives him immediately without even getting angry about it, yet anytime she says she can’t stay with him, he’s convinced it’s because he did this bad thing. It was just silly.
Overall: I liked this book better than the first one: Andra was a stronger character than the first heroine, and Paul was a more honest hero, but I have big reservations about the level of drama that’s injected into the story, which made things lack believability.
The Book Lush (positive review)
(let me know if you’ve reviewed this book and I will link to it)