Sara’s Review of The Essence by Kimberly Derting
I’d like to thank Shane at Itching for Books, Simon & Schuster, and the author, Kimberly Derting, for letting me participate in this tour. For a full list of all the blogs involved, and for a chance to enter the giveaway associated with this event, please visit HERE!
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Date Published: January 1, 2013
Series: The Pledge
“Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.
Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.
As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.
While I liked The Pledge, book one of this series, I absolutely loved The Essence! In many ways I felt this was much better than the first book. But having said that, I do highly recommend you read book one of the series before picking up this novel. There’s a lot that happens in The Pledge that sets things up for events in The Essence. Having said that, I will warn you all now…this review might possibly contain spoilers. I’m going to try and avoid giving anything major away, and will try to skirt around things, but I can’t promise anything. So, if you haven’t yet read The Pledge, I would strongly suggest holding off on reading this review until such time as you’ve read the first book of the series, just to be on the safe side. =^.^=
First off, I would like to say that this book played on my emotions more than the first one did. I was much more invested in the well-being of the characters this time around, had a few favorites that I was happy to see return, and really was hoping that Charlie’s transition into her new role in life would go smoothly. Sadly, this was not to be and Derting really did a fantastic job of making this book feel darker and more suspense filled.
I actually got rather upset when Derting killed a character that I had come to like a great deal. I was rather hoping to see this particular character return and take on an important role at some point later in the series, but alas that hope was squelched a third of the way in. It seems that lately I have the worst luck in liking those characters that authors seem more inclined to kill off at some point. Sigh
There was also a lot more suspense running throughout this novel than I felt in The Pledge. Though I figured out rather quickly who the assassin was, I found myself continually on the edge of my seat wondering how long it would take before everyone in the story figured it out, and whether or not he’d be captured in the end. Plus the suspense behind Charlie fighting for control of herself… well, to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure about the outcome of that particular battle. =^O.o^= Yes, there were times where I cried, others were my fur bristled in anger, and even a few where I had to laugh over some of the minor moments in the book (Charlie’s fear of horses being one of those moments). In short this book engaged me emotionally, and that alone made it a great read.
Another thing this book had going for it was that many of the characters were more developed than they were in the first novel. Charlie is much more stubborn this time around. A trait that I found worked well for her. She’s still extremely loyal, and in many ways unsure of what she’s gotten herself into, but there’s now a sense of determination within her that I hadn’t seen before. Also my desire to continually shake sense into her wasn’t there as much. Thank goodness. My feelings towards Brooklyn also changed. I could see that she really wanted to protect Charlie, and I had to applaud her strong sense of duty. She’s definitely not the same girl from the previous novel. And while Xander and Max were not nearly in this book as often as I would have liked, they too have grown a bit since previous events. As for Angelina, she’s pretty much the same, but my love for her hasn’t diminished any. I still find her just as adorable as I did in the first book.
I was pleased to see that Zafir, one of the Royal Guards, is no longer hiding in the background, but instead right in the middle of things, and he quickly became one of my new favorite characters. There’s something about him that just makes me break out into a huge grin whenever he shows up in the story now. I’m hoping that Derting will give Claude the same opportunity to grow in a future book. He’s still hiding in the shadows for the most part at this time. I’ve yet to reach a verdict on Niko and Avonlea, two new characters who have rather interesting histories about them. I’m not sure why, but I feel like there’s something more to both of these characters that we have yet to see. Again, I’m hoping for more from these two in the next book. As for Sabara…I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I actually felt some sympathy towards her character at times. Yes, she’s still a twisted individual, but there are things that Derting shows us about her past which makes me feel like she could have been a good person if things had gone differently in her life. Surprising, I know, but I have the feeling that there’s much more to Sabara than we even get to see in this book. Course, I could be wrong, but you never know, murr!
As far as the plot goes, this one felt much more solid than the one in The Pledge. Yes, it’s obvious that there’s still more to come in this series, but I didn’t have the feeling that everything taking place was a set-up for a future book. I found the conflict over bringing equality to Ludania to be solidly written, the threat to Charlie’s life made me want to keep reading, and Charlie’s struggles with Sabara had me wondering just who was going to win. In other words, the plot was engaging and there were very few moments where I felt things were lagging. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. If anything, I found myself annoyed at the continual interruptions from my fellow feline reviewers. If it hadn’t been for them, I’d have probably read this book in one sitting.
So, do I recommend The Essence to readers? Yes! While you may not love it as much as I did, I can definitely say that you won’t regret giving this one a read. But again, I must insist that you start with the first book before you begin this one. And as of this moment, I can’t wait for the third book in the series to come out. I’ll definitely be reading it once it does, murr!
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