Ugh, original review seems to have been lost to the ether. Thanks a lot, Booklikes :/
Part of the genius of this series is the brilliantly conflict-rich concept Blake came up with. Three MC with entourages who may also be each other's antagonists. Tension tension tension. Murder plots, romance plots, sisterly love? plots, friendship plots . . . it's no wonder the film crews are circling.
Add to that Blake's consistently strong writing, vibrant settings and talent for making deplorable character actions if not relatable, at least comprehensible. Dark magic, poison, not-so-cuddly mascot characters, fierce girls, assassins, elaborate and sometimes deadly fashions . . . a perfect round-up of everything readers adore.
Since a lot of the fun of the first book was in being blown away by Blake, like, totally going there with it, and then that killer cliffhanger, this sequel feels somewhat less shocking, more familiar. Entertaining, but not mind-blowing. It sets up a direction, subverts it, twists it, but more or less heads where you'd expect. Solid and entertaining second entry in the series, just filling out the world and characters and moving the plot along. In terms of age rating, there is quite a bit of violence, pretty minimal language, and mostly-offscreen but frankly acknowledged sex. Shouldn't be a problem for older readers, maybe a mild parental guidance alert for youngest teens, mostly on the violence.
Excited to see what's coming next (on the page and hopefully on the screen as well!)