At the end of the first book, Kyra had been fighting for her life against James, the head of the Assassin’s Guild. To survive, she accepted her birthright and transformed into a demon cat, revealing her secret to Tristram and James. After delivering James to the Council, things are tense between two factions, Mikhail, the Defense Minister, and Willem, Head Councilman. As Willem tries to take down Mikhail, the Council votes to make war on the demon cats, involving conscripting citizens as soldiers. Troubled and searching for allies, Kyra turns to imprisoned James to find out if he can help her with Willem. Before she can find any real evidence, she becomes an outlaw for attacking noblemen in retaliation for threatening her and harming Idalee and must flee the city with her makeshift family. Because of her actions, Mikhail’s leadership is called into question, and Tristram’s reputation lowers even further. Suddenly, Kyra is straddling two different worlds in reality as in blood between Forge and the demon cat clans. While learning to become comfortable in her fur as in her skin, she learns of a secret plot that has Willem intending to take control of Forge. She brings the information to Tristram to expose to the Council, even if it means confronting her own feelings about Tristram’s secret marriage alliance. Their plan backfires and, though Willem’s corruption is laid bare, the traitor escapes and launches a contingency of soldiers from nearby Edlan at their gate. A weakened and confused Forge is not prepared for a battle nor a siege. Kyra, with the allegiance brought about by Flick and his new allies among the demon cats, promises to capture Willem, and if they succeed, there is potential for peace between the two peoples, but the cost could be high. Is Kyra prepared to stand and fight for the future she wants, or her father right about her and her failures?
A solidly ‘middle’ book in the series. Though like the first, it struggles to get started, eventually you don’t notice the change as the plot begins to carry the reader along. I wish there was more world building in this series because it has some really great qualities but just falls short of “great” or “epic”. It’s good, and while I’ve complained about other series faults before (Throne of Glass, I’m thinking of you), I just don’t have the heart to do that to this one. It’s perfect for middle grade readers looking for fantasy thrills and a new adventure.