I’m glad I read this right after Spellbreaker because, as previously mentioned, I really wanted to know how things would work out … but alas, I didn’t like this book as much as I liked that one. For me, the balance of magic and intrigue and romance in the first one was just right; this one’s a little heavier on the romance for a lot of the book, and I was just not that into the direction it took. (To say it in a non-spoilery way: I liked the sass and flirtation of the first book much more than I liked the questions and doubts that figured more heavily in this one.) Plotwise: this book picks up shortly after the previous one ends, and in the first chapter our heroine Elsie finds herself “under arrest for the practice of unregistered spellbreaking.” As you might guess, she isn’t sentenced to death or life imprisonment, as that wouldn’t leave us with much of a book—but her arrest has major consequences for her relationship with Bacchus, the aspector from Barbados who played such a big role in the last book. Meanwhile, the villain who was revealed at the end of the last book continues to be a threat, and figuring out how to deal with that threat takes up a lot of Elsie and Bacchus’s time. We also get to meet a few new characters, my favorite of whom is the registered spellbreaker who’s sent to train Elsie after she gets out of jail: watching her dynamic with all the other characters is fun, and a magical fight scene near the end of the book is strengthened, I think, by having two spellbreakers and two aspectors (magicians) fighting on the same side.
(That said: I have issues with the way the villainy in this book ends up going, for reasons that people on Goodreads have already articulated better than I could, as in the three following reviews by others: review 1, review 2, review 3)