Cover Image: Stormsong


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While lacking the magic and mystery of Witchmark, Stormsong advances the story of Aeland and the Hensleys sufficiently to inspire readers to pick up the next book. The POV change from Miles to Grace may be jarring for some readers. Though Grace is compelling and strong female narrator, readers may remain invested in Miles’ story, particularly his relationship with Tristan which is only explored superficially in this story. Additionally, the mystery at the heart of Stormsong lacks the gravity of Witchmark’s exposure of the aether network’s true nature and often reads less as fantasy and more as a conventional story of political maneuverings. Ultimately, the success of the series will depend on the resolutions provided in the next book. Luckily, both Miles and Grace are characters readers will root for and will likely want to revisit.

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Grace is a very powerful woman in a country where the impetus for change is coming from the outside pressure of magical beings - change that requires a total technological transformation away from energy powered by souls. As such, she's in a different position re: the power structure than her brother, the protagonist of the previous book. Much of the book is focused on her balancing and negotiating the politics of different groups, while also trying to make changes. Like Avia, the photojournalist who pushes Grace to disclose more to the public and to enact sweeping reforms, I occasionally found Grace frustrating. However, Polk excels at making very relatable characters - flawed but not anti-heroes. The balance of politics, magic, and the f/f romance (as well as the appearance of favorite characters from the previous book) was impeccable, creating a very entertaining read.

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Stormsong by C. L. Polk lived up to Witchmark in many ways. I absolutely loved Witchmark; it’s an adorable fantasy murder mystery with a strong romance subplot woven into the narrative. The chemistry between Miles and Tristan was great, the setting was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the murder mystery itself to boot!

I loved the romantic aspects, and I especially loved Grace’s romantic partner, Avia Jessup. However, I have one major gripe that overshadowed the whole experience for me: Grace never once had to truly face any consequences or earn redemption for her horrible actions in Witchmark. It was incredibly jarring seeing everyone pretend as though her actions had unilaterally been above-board. In fact, she’s lauded by the Amaranthians as a savior for having assisted in breaking the aether network. Although she makes a few one-off observations to herself about her past actions and reflecting on how awful they were, she ultimately never has to earn her redemption.

“He deserves all the credit for doing the right thing and staying the Amaranthines’ wrath. He was the one who acted. I just helped.”

“Did you hesitate to help him?”

I shrugged. “No. He was right.”

“Then you deserve credit too. Many people wouldn’t have moved to do the right thing so quickly. But you made the hard choice, for the good of Aeland.”

His approval warmed my cheeks. “Thank you, Your High—Severin.”

If Grace’s upbringing had been explored in slightly more depth, I think that these issues could have been avoided. It’s clear that her relationship with her father was toxic at best and abusive at worst. These are all things that truly would excuse her behavior, if they had been fleshed out into a proper theme and something that was examined critically as part of the text. While I suspect that Polk wanted to avoid going too far down the trauma hole, it ultimately resulted in a character who fell flat and never seemed to face any consequences.

I frequently found myself wishing that it were Avia rather than Grace who was the primary point of view character. Avia was more interesting and more compelling in nearly every way. She sacrificed a life of luxury, spurning her wealthy father, in order to pursue a career as a journalist. She’s dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the destruction of the aether network, and she knows that Grace is involved. As she grows closer to Grace, she challenges Grace’s privileged upbringing and preestablished notions of how normal people live – though she unfortunately doesn’t challenge Grace’s previous actions towards Miles. She was an incredibly engaging character, who I would have liked to see more of.

The murder mystery and politics of the book were slightly less engaging compared to Witchmark (perhaps the lack of bicycle chases?), but nevertheless were still intriguing to read through. It was interesting to see how the Aeland government and the Amaranthians interacted, which is something I’d been looking forward to for some time. Miles and Tristan play their part, of course, though Miles is still weakened after having destroyed the aether network. I was hoping for a few more cute moments between the two of them, but unfortunately it didn’t get much love.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read… but it just didn’t quite hit home for me. Grace as a protagonist simply didn’t work well, even if I did love Avia.

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I was really excited to read this book, as I enjoyed Witchmark a whole lot, but unfortunately the file is unreadable.

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STORMSONG blew me away, y’all.

Polk shifts her focus to politics as Grace, who often horrified me in WITCHMARK, deals with such topical issues as government corruption, ethical power sources, climate change, and persecution along class lines. It’s an enormously complicated situation, and Polk handles it well—all while exploring how tackling these problems impacts Grace’s worldview.

STORMSONG is about social evolution and honest engagement. When Grace changes her mind, it’s because she’s made an effort to go out and see what everyone’s taking about, and because she recognizes how her burgeoning relationships with a wider group of people help her go beyond her own borders. She doesn’t like or accept every idea she hears, but she listens and considers and acts with her country’s best interests at heart.

She’s also moved to evaluate what SHE wants, as a person vs as a politician, and how that does or doesn’t mesh with her public role. It’s lovely and affecting.

And Polk wraps all this character development up in tasty worldbuilding that delights in the little things even as it interrogates the ways Aeland could be better. Colour me happy.

I’m beyond eager for the next book. I want to spend tons more time in this world, with these characters.

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This review was originally posted on <a href="" target="_blank"> Books of My Heart</a>

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I am continuing with the <em><strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Witchmark </a></strong></em> series which I started because of the gorgeous cover.  I love the covers and the magics in this world.  Miles and Grace are wonderful characters and have come to see the world outside of their father's purview.

This is a unique sort of fantasy, which feels historical, maybe steampunk.  Each kingdom has its own sorts of magics and there is fighting between kingdoms. There is also definitely a class system. ugh.  There always some greedy bastards who not only have to be in charge of a kingdom and take everything for themselves while making others work hard but then they also want to take over more land and workers.

<strong>Witchmark</strong> was the story of Miles. I really loved him and his compassion. He's a doctor who fought in the war and then treated soldiers.  He and his sister, Grace, fought together to stop the enslavement of others.

Now in <strong>Stormstong</strong>, we begin with Grace in prison for that fight. She is quickly released as she is talented with weather magic  and she is needed.  She serves the Queen and tries so hard to do what is right for Aeland, but it is so difficult. Everyone wants to control her. She is very knowledgeable about the players but still has some tricky moments with traps laid for her.  There is a lot more history revealed.

This is an urban fantasy although each story has the start of a new romance.  You do need to read these in order to keep track of the politics and battles and the characters in power.  I confess I had trouble starting to read partly because it has been a bit since I read the first but also because the ARC was oddly paged with some garbage characters in it and some words with odd spaces in them, so it took me awhile to settle into reading.

I really enjoyed the political maneuvering of the characters. I did guess at the villain early because he was not a nice guy overall. Grace was such a humble and tireless servant for her country and its people.  She was brutally honest while working for palatable solutions for various groups.  Grace, with the support of Miles and Tristan, was amazing.   I hope there is more in this world but there aren't any more siblings.

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I received an advance copy via NetGalley.

I greatly enjoyed <i>Witchmark</i> last year when I read it as a Nebula finalist. I was quite curious about how the sequel would play out. Polk established a fascinating, original world of powerful magic, devastating storms, and snarled, vicious political power plays. The setting is quite Victorian in inspiration (but not steampunk). The magic, I really loved. Weather magic has been used in other books, but this take feels new. The queer rep is fantastic, too. Diversity shines here.

To my surprise, though, I had a hard time getting into <i>Stormsong.</i> The refreshers about previous events weren't quite enough, leaving me lost for a good while, and the plot cranked up so slowly that I wondered if I should stop completely. The perspective had shifted in this book to Grace, the politically-savvy sister of Miles. I enjoyed her character but things just couldn't get going. Fortunately, I pressed on, and I'm glad I did. Things really picked up halfway through, and the last bit zoomed along, complete with a fantastic ending. As with the first book, the twisty-turny plot is brightened by a deftly-handled romance.

While not as consistently enthralling as the first book, <i>Stormsong</i> absolutely came through in the end.

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Stormsong continues directly where Witchmark left off. The witch Miles, his fae lover Tristan, and his sister Grace have successfully ended the inhumane practice of using souls to power the country of Aeland's energy. However, this has plunged the country into darkness and unproductivity-- commoners' jobs are at a standstill, prices have skyrocketed, and the ghosts of the freed souls roam the land. Dangerous storms are blanketing the county in snow and runing crops, the Aelander government is in turmoil, the commonfolk are organizing and protesting, and the fae court have descended upon humanity to invoke justice. It's up to Grace, as newly appointed Chancellor, to help nudge Aeland into a new era, one of transparency and equality. But the wealthy and powerful upper class isn't going to relinquish their way of life so easily.

The plot of Stormsong is good, if a bit predictable. Themes of anti-capitalism, anti-corruption, and freedom of the press are strong. There's an f/f romance between Grace and a tenacious journalist, though it wasn't actually very romantic-- compared to Witchmark, which had a very adorable if somewhat insta-lovey m/m romance, the romance here is very dry. There is SO MUCH plot happening in this book, but it kind of whizzes by without leaving the reader any time to sink into it. Grace is being pulled in a thousand different directions throughout the story, which results in the reader being pulled in all those directions as well. Sometimes things happened so quickly, with characters jumping to conclusions or doing things without narrative explanation, I got whiplash. The story ends abruptly in a very weird spot, and I really hope there'll be another sequel because everything is far from resolved.

Overall, I didn't enjoy Stormsong as much as I did it's precursor, but it was still a fun read with an interesting plot and story themes. I liked getting glimpses into Miles and Tristan's relationship post-Witchmark. I will be glad to continue with any further books in the series.

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I absolutely loved C. L. Polk’s Witchmark, and while in my opinion this one doesn’t have quite the same magic, I still liked it.

One reason this novel didn’t grab me in quite the same way as the first is that I didn’t find Grace as compelling a main character as her brother Miles. Grace hasn’t suffered in the same way Miles has, and consequently, she doesn’t have as much depth. Grace is essentially a rich girl who develops a conscience when confronted with the suffering of others, and that’s a character I’ve seen before. The only difference between her and similar heroines in other books is that she’s more politically astute than most.

It also took a while for me to get invested in the story. Magic still plays a role, but a lot of the plot centers around political and diplomatic intrigue, as Grace steps into her father’s role as chancellor and then tries to figure out how to keep her country from disaster as she deals with the competing demands of the royal family, the Amaranthines, and the common people, especially those affected by the laws targeting witches. The stakes ratchet up as the story goes along, and I did get fully caught up in the action eventually, after a bit of a slow start.

I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like the book, because that’s not the case. Once the story got moving, I liked the way the events unfolded. Miles and Tristan both play a part in the action, and I enjoyed getting to see them again. The book also has a nice romantic subplot, with Grace falling for maybe the worst possible choice for someone in her position, an investigative journalist named Avia.

I had really high expectations going in, and while they weren’t entirely met, I’d say this novel is still a good choice for readers of fantasy and especially fans of the previous book in the series.

A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own

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This is the second book of the Kingston Trilogy and make no mistake, it needs to be read after <i>Witchmark</i>. We're thrown directly into the story and it took me a while to remember exactly where we left off.

The good:

- The story is a redemption arc of sorts for Grace. A bunch of people weren't happy with what she did in book one, but here she realizes the part she played and what she can do to make up for it.

- There's an interesting meta conversation about affecting change in society. Do you try to make the change gradually from within using the established political framework, or do you try for radical change from without? Is one always better than the other, or do they each have their moment?

- Realize going in that the book is mostly politics - it's well done, but a lot of action is replaced by talking.

- Yeaaaa for a book with an f/f romance! I love it when a series mixes up pairings (Witchmark is m/m).

The not-so-good:

- The romance element is severely underplayed, and while there's a suspicious death the murder mystery also gets pushed to the side.

- The book feels like half a story, leaving off in a weird place without much closure. If that sort of thing bothers you maybe wait for book three to come out and read them as a pair.

I'm still invested in this world so I'll continue on, but I'm not as excited as I was after finishing the first book. Still looking forward to what Polk does next, though.

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Stormsong is the sequel to author C.L. Polk’s outstanding debut novel, Witchmark, a book that impressed me so immensely it ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2018. Thus, the two most pressing questions I had going into this novel were, one, would Stormsong live up to the excellence of Witchmark, and two, would Grace live up to her name. The answer to both is an emphatic yes.

The country of Aeland is facing a climate crisis as well as being in desperate need of an alternative energy source to fuel its economy, restore electricity and its communications network, and get its citizens back to work. The cause of Aeland’s downfall, the results of it not entirely unlike the Great Depression in some ways, ties directly into events that transpired at the end of book one, which makes it imperative, in my opinion, not to attempt to read this book as a standalone. The world building in Witchmark is one of its hallmarks, and that carries over to this book as well. I love the magic and spellcraft which ties into what was its gaslamp/steampunk style setting before the collapse, not to mention its supernatural elements, but what’s even more fascinating—or, perhaps disturbing—about the deterioration of Aeland’s technological advancements, which have been devastated by the rightful destruction of its power source, is the question of the greater good versus the end justifying the means. In this case, there is no gray area, and the risk to life and limb Grace’s brother, Dr. Miles Singer, took to destroy the aether network was not only justified, it was morally imperative.

There is a line of demarcation between the privileged and the working class that Grace is coming to recognize in her newly appointed role as Chancellor and the Voice of the queen. To put a finer point on it, Grace is seeing, firsthand, the bias inherent in a system which protects her but criminalizes other witches and dictates they go into hiding to avoid imprisonment. Fear mongering has been key to sublimating witches, instigating the Witch Protection Act, and Grace comes to see the exploitation in it and commits to right the wrong of it through compassion and strategic political maneuvering. The question is, when the truth emerges from the darkness of corruption and greed, what will become of a society whose queen has secrets of her own which have fueled her every move and decision? There is a revolution afoot, enlisting not only Grace’s aid but that of the Amaranthines (this realm’s version of the Fae). And Grace’s imprisoned father, a despicable and power-hungry man, may or may not have his hands in all of it.

This is where journalist Avia Jessup comes in. Her friend, and fellow journalist, Nick Elliot was murdered, and his death is the reason Miles and his lover Sir Tristan Hunter, an Amaranthine himself, were brought together in book one. Avia is in possession of Nick’s collection of notes and discoveries he made during his investigation of Aeland Power and Lights, and its government ties—he died because he was on the trail of something explosive and corrupt—which places Avia in the middle of all the danger and intrigue on the political landscape, and emphasizes her personal and journalistic integrity in the fight for the greater good. Something she fought hard for and left her own wealthy family to achieve. Something that earns Grace’s deepest respect and admiration, but which is not a clear-cut path to their romance.

And, of course, it all becomes moot if the Storm-singers fail to stop a powerful blizzard the likes of which means certain ruination and death to those in its path.

There is a corresponding murder mystery that aligns with political underpinnings which emphasizes not only the danger Grace and Avia find themselves in, but it threatens to undermine Grace’s goal of distancing herself from her father—the man who molded Grace in his image but did not succeed in making her his clone. He may have had a hand in her education and inspired in her a gift for political strategy, but Grace is fighting to become her own woman, to be more than, better than, just another cog in a corrupt system. Her proximity to Avia in their joint efforts to expose the truth breeds familiarity, and in Grace it breeds an empathy that makes her yearn for Avia’s respect. Misunderstandings and machinations from an outside force threaten to derail them before they even get started, though, and the peak of the action is inspired by events that affect Avia in dangerous ways.

Snakes in the grass, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, murder, theft and a coverup, the mystery within the mystery—C.L. Polk handles it all with such a deft and talented hand. I was every single bit as absorbed in and impressed by this book as by the first. Polk is a nimble storyteller, drawing bits and pieces from various characters, situations, and sources, and composing them into a whole cloth of conspiracy, internal affairs, betrayal, corruption, danger, and she’s not quite done weaving it all together yet. The storm is still threatening, Grace and Miles’s father lives to taint and corrupt another day, and there are witches yet to liberate. Polk offers a sweet and sincere romance to her readers as well, amongst all the corresponding storylines. While the budding relationship between Grace and Avia doesn’t overshadow the more critical machinations and issues facing them and Aeland as a whole, their happy start is not left in doubt, and I look forward to seeing them, along with Miles and Tristan, again in their continuing adventures.

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My favorite book of 2018 was Witchmark by C.L. Polk and the first thing I did after finishing it was look up if there was going to be more books in the series. That being said, I feel like I have been waiting 84 years for this sequel instead of the year and half it's been. It was totally worth the wait!

Going into this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I didn't hate Grace at the end of Witchmark but I didn't love her either. She has a lot to make up for with how she treated her brother but she made a lot of headway with helping Miles and Tristan disable the aether network. I'm so happy that I can say loved Stormsong almost just as much as I did Witchmark. They are two very different books but they are perfect foils for each other and they just make you want more from this series.

While Witchmark focused more on the magic and the people of Aeland, Stormsong concentrates more on the politics and could be classified as a magical political thriller. The whole book is wonderfully thrilling, terribly romantic, and more than a bit magical. I loved that it is written from Grace’s perspective. It helps us to understand why she did some of the things she did in the first book and it lets us see a different side of Aeland. As much as I love Miles, we saw only a very small portion of Aeland from his point of view and that was mostly the soldiers he was treating and the lower social classes. He doesn’t have to think or deal with the political ramifications of his actions, while Grace does. She is always thinking about what affect her actions will have on her political career and how they could better help her country.

I didn't think it was possible for me to fall in love with Grace but C.L. Polk made me fall head over heels for her in this book. Grace is an exceedingly competent mage and political leader who is more than a bit unsure of her place and what she wants out of life and more than a little lonely. This book was a political thriller but it was also a book about relationships and becoming the person you want to be.

At the first of this book, Grace doesn't know who she wants to be. All she knows is what she's been groomed to be and what she's expected to do to uphold the family legacy. It's also a book about her relationships. Mainly the relationships with her father, Miles, her Queen, and Avia. I loved the amount of Miles and Tristan in this story and how much we got to learn about them through Grace's eyes! But her relationship with Miles is still developing and changing from what it was before Miles ran off to join the army. Her relationships with her father and the royal family are complex and I loved how C.L. Polk approached both of them.

As for the relationship with Avia, I adored the romance between the two! Like everything in this book, it was almost the complete opposite of the romance between Miles and Tristan. While theirs was a slow-burn between two strangers who met and then fell in love, Avia and Grace have known each other for a long time even if they weren't friends. They ran in the same social circles until Avia was tossed out and disowned by her father. The mutual attraction between the two was always there, but neither ever acted on it. I loved watching them come together despite several events and secrets that tried to keep them apart!

I wholeheartedly loved this book and already know it's going to be one of my top ten books of the year. My one and only complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt. It ends on kind of a cliffhanger in the middle of the action and I just need more! Not all of the loose ends are tied up and things have been setup for a third book which hasn't been announced to my knowledge but which I am now dying to get my hands on. I really really need there to be a third book because if the series ends like that with no other books I will riot. I'm hoping C.L. Polk will pull a Rainbow Rowell and announce the third book around when Stormsong releases. For now, I’m going to be preparing myself for another long wait in between books.

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Stormsong, by C. L. Polk, is the sequel to Witchmark, which anyone who read and enjoyed Witchmark has been eagerly anticipating. After uncovering the horrible truth behind the institutes that imprison witches and breaking the aether network, Dame Grace Hensley’s troubles are just beginning. The queen is determined to conceal the secrets Grace and her brother Miles have imperiled, a delegation of Amaranthines is demanding reparations for Aeland’s crimes, the leadership of Aeland’s secret society of mages has been thrown into chaos, and worsening uncontrollable weather could devastate Aeland. Worse by far, intrepid reporter Avia Jessup may be on the verge of upsetting the delicate balance Grace has achieved so far by releasing the whole truth of what happened to the public and Grace can’t seem to shut her out.

Stormsong is a worthwhile, entertaining sequel to Witchmark. While Witchmark followed Miles investigating a sinister mystery from the outside of all of Aeland various power structures, both seen and unseen, Stormsong follows Grace right into the middle of those power structures. She is juggling the demands of the Crown and the needs of the nation against peril from all sides and the demands of her own conscience and all of it could go wrong at any time if she mishandles the careful web of political machinations, diplomatic relations, and power grabs going on around her. Grace’s romance with Avia and her introspective investigations into what she actually wants out of her life are lovely and temper the mystery element of the plot without taking away from its momentum. Like Witchmark, Stormsong doesn’t wrap up Aeland’s ongoing crises, choosing instead to end on the book on the resolution of the personal side of the story. That just leaves room for another book in the series, which I certainly hope will be coming.

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books!

Warning: May contain spoilers

Stormsong is the sequel to Witchmark which is a book I really enjoyed last year. In the first book, Grace’s brother Miles, a war veteran and doctor was the protagonist and together they uncovered the dark secret that their father and many members of the upper class have hidden from them and the public. In this book, those secrets are starting to come out and Grace is at the center of it all.

From the get-go, you really see how much more privileged Grace was compared to Miles even after the events of the first book. You also see how her privileged colored her perception of the world around her and how she reacts to the events happening around her. This privilege also affected how she interacted with the other characters and I liked how she gets called out on it. In the beginning, she kind of grated on my nerves because I keep getting reminded that ultimately, she’s part of this oppressive system and participates in it. I did like how her character developed throughout the course of the book and how she changes as she starts to see things more clearly.

Stormsong sometimes felt a lot like the lull in a storm, a calm before disaster strikes. In a way, that’s kind of what’s happening here because it feels like it’s constantly on the brink of something big happening and this book is about the events before that happens. Something that’s foundational before truly big events start to happen and the country is engulfed in political fallout and a possible revolution. Speaking of which, Stormsong is a very politics-heavy book, even moreso than Witchmark which is understandable because Grace becomes an important political figure in this one. Here, she navigates the political climate of Aeland and tries to bridge the gap between her countrymen and the Amaranthines who could potentially bring disaster to her nation.

Like in the last book, there’s also a murder mystery subplot to be solved in Stormsong, this time involving the death of a diplomat who could tell them about a curse cast by their enemy country. Unlike the last one, this isn’t a huge focal point and it does get resolved rather quickly.

As with Witchmark, there’s also a romance element in this book, although not quite as heavy in Witchmark. This time, the focus is on a f/f romance as Grace falls in love with Avia, a journalist who is threatening to expose secrets which may destroy them. I really enjoyed how their relationship developed as they really were very at odds with each other on a political level. It’s like personally, they do get along very well so they aren’t enemies, but they did have very different perspectives at first. For one thing, Avia was also born into a position of privilege but unlike Grace, she was cast down from her lofty perch which helped her to see how the less privileged live and how oppressed poor witches were.

The relationship between Grace and Avia becomes pretty important in this book because Avia really helps Grace see that while she acknowledges that their society was wrong, the way she goes about with how she wants things to change was also wrong. At first, Grace was resistant to the idea of radical change but she does grow to embrace it as it becomes clearer that it’s what they need in order to save their country. I liked the progression in how Grace’s character changes because it does feel natural and realistic.

Overall, I enjoyed Stormsong and it’s blend of fantasy, political intrigue, and romance. I highly recommend reading this series.

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This took me forever to read. When I first got it, the formatting was so bad that it was unreadable. They finally were able to fix it and I was so happy to finally be able to read it. Unfortunately, when I was done reading, I just wanted another. I didn't want to leave the Kingston Cycle world.

What do you do when you destroy you're county's power source because it's powered by souls? Go home and try to get people held accountable while making sure that regular people don't rise up. Grace plays the politics game while dealing with out-of-control weather.

It's very impressive how well Grace balances the plates in the air. I love almost all of the characters and plot lines except for her love interest plot. Their romance felt very rushed with how deeply Grace feels. I preferred her with Robin.

There is going to be another book, right?

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Oh my god oh my god oh my God oh my God oh my God OH MY GOD.

The wait is over! It’s STORMSONG! By C.L. Polk! The second book of The Kingston Cycle is here!

Told from Grace’s POV, Stormsong begins right where Witchmark left off: Miles, Grace and Tristan have destroyed the Aether network (Aeland’s power grid) after learning the truth of where all that clean energy came from, namely, human souls, harvested from those killed during the war with Laneer. In fact, that’s the whole reason for the war - gotta keep the lights on, so just start a war to produce more dead, then force imprisoned witches in the asylums to process the souls of the dead into energy so you can flick your light switch on and off at night for fun. And, you know, have heat and power factories and such. The public has no idea where aether came from, they only know that it seems to be gone and now they have no heat in the middle of winter.

Only, its worse than that. Grace, as a Stormsinger with the power to manipulate the weather, senses a massive, hurricane-sized storm just off the coast of Aeland. The storm, when it hits, will bring subzero temperatures and tons upon tons of snow onto a country that now has no heat or electricity. Thousands risk freezing to death and, with the last harvest ruined by a snowstorm, even more risk starvation.

Then there’s the Amaranthines - the immortal, God-like people who are kind of like this world’s Interpol. They want Aeland to answer for their atrocities. Queen Constantina, however, doesn’t believe she’s done anything wrong. So Grace is thrown headfirst into a political maelstrom, between the Queen, the crown prince Severin, the Amaranthines, and an increasingly outraged public. Then there’s the beguiling Avia Jessup. Avia abandoned a life as a wealthy heiress to pursue her dream career as a photojournalist, and she’s damn good at it. So good, she’s close to discovering exactly what it was that kept Aeland’s lights on. A secret Grace knows could destroy the nation.

But maybe exposing the truth wouldn’t be so bad?

When I finished Witchmark, I bemoaned the fact that it would be a very long wait for the next book. But holy shit is the wait worth it. Stormsong is absolutely phenomenal. It is a worthy follow-up to Witchmark and a magnificent continuation to The Kingston Cycle. The whole book is beautiful, magical, and romantic - it’s everything you’d want in a sequel - the story is carried forward with a fresh perspective, but not all the loose ends are tied up, and there’s some great setup for a third book which I am now dying to read. I loved getting to see thing’s from Grace’s perspective. As much as I love Miles, he lives in a world of very black-and-white morality, whereas Grace lives in a world of gray. Miles doesn’t have to deal with the political ramifications of his actions, but Grace does. She has to deal with the Queen and the Crown Prince and the Amaranthine Grand Duchess Aife...oh, and her and Miles’s awful father, Sir Christopher Leland Hensley, who, despite being in prison, still seeks to exert control over Grace.

The romance between Grace and Avia is absolutely lovely - it’s not the slow burn that was Miles and Tristan in Witchmark. Tristan and Miles were strangers who met and then fell in love. Avia and Grace have known each other for a long time, they ran in the same circles their whole lives, and it wasn’t until Avia was tossed out by her father that the two of them lost touch. The mutual attraction was there, but neither ever acted on it. It’s the events of Stormsong that that turn the spark into a flame, and it’s absolutely delightful to watch.

My only complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt - it ends in the middle of the action, and you just want to scream “no, it can’t end there, there has to be more, right? RIGHT?” Hopefully there will be more. I absolutely need more. For now, though, I’m going to dig in my heels and prepare myself for another wait. Waiting is hard, but the payoff is often oh, so sweet.

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It would be safe to say that I should have seen this coming. While I liked book 1, it was nothing special for me. And it was nothing special in aspects that are unlikely to change in book 2. So, really, this is not a surprise rating.

Stormsong continues pretty much from where Witchmark left off. The aether network has been destroyed, its workings exposed, and the Amaranthines have come to glare menacingly at the Aelanders. But now that crisis is past, it is time for Grace to deal with the aftermath and consequences. Namely political ones.

The problem I had from the start of this book was that I struggled to like Grace. In book 1, she’s introduced as a slightly overbearing, if well-meaning, privileged character, who subsequently becomes someone who is willing to enslave her brother and would rather die than to free him. So you can see why I wasn’t inclined to like her. And, ultimately, that first impression of her stayed with me throughout book 2. It’s not that she wholly doesn’t develop as a character – she does, eventually come to see the light – but she develops so slowly that I couldn’t take it. Not to mention that a lot of her characterisation seems to be in the form of:

Character: you have to stop the oppression of witches!
Grace: you don’t understand! I can’t tell everyone the truth!

So that was another sticking point for me. That Grace refuses to tell the truth about witch oppression (until the end), for seemingly no good reason? “Oh they can’t truly know how awful we were!” They can and they should, Grace. And I know this is part of her character development, that she comes to realise this is what needs to be done, but combine that with the fact I didn’t like her in the first place? It’s gonna be a struggle.

Barring the fact that I hated Grace, there wasn’t huge amounts wrong with this book. Yeah, the pacing was as bad for me as in the first book (the number of times something big happens and they just go take a nap and a leisurely meal like. Your country is in crisis! Is this the time??), but this time I was expecting that. It’s just that it didn’t help with the complete and utter boredom I felt while reading it. Because it was all politicky, which would have been great, but it was also all so dry. So unbelievably dry. I found myself skimming long passages because I was so bored. Even when a murder happened I still found myself bored because they didn’t actually do any investigating.

Things did get more interesting in the last 30 pages or so, when everything came to a head, but then the book just ended. Not even in a good cliffhanger-like way, either. It just stopped. As if the actual ending of the book was missing. Nothing was resolved, which is understandable if this is to be a trilogy, but it was just such an abrupt ending that I almost thought there was something wrong with the file. It feels less like an ending and more like the book has been arbitrarily split in two. So that’s kind of another thing that bugged me about the pacing.

But, ultimately, it’s not a surprise I felt this way – the first book should definitely have been a sign. In the end, this book is just one of those that’s not for me.

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RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

I’ll be honest. I was not at all a fan of Grace’s character in Witchmark. I went into Stormsong expecting much of the same. I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered; a beautiful portrait of a flawed woman raised in a life of privilege learning and attempting to take responsibility for her mistakes and her upbringing. I loved the trajectory of her growth, and admired her absolute unwillingness to compromise her beliefs.

While Witchmark was a psychological, medical mystery, Stormsong was a political thriller. I enjoyed learning about the world, Laneer in particular, although I would have liked to see more outside Aeland. The novel remained character and plot focused which I appreciated, but the world-building suffered somewhat for it. Still, the characters were captivating enough to make up for it. Besides Grace, Avia shone as a remarkably crafted, whip smart troublemaker, equal to it not surpassing Grace in her unflinching dedication to her values. I loved learning more about Robin and her culture. It was an utter delight to see Tristan and Miles again, and I was happy to see their love is alive and well. Even the villains were well-established, her nefarious father and vile Ray. (What a beautifully crafted adversary for Grace. Every inch the coddled, bratty, entitled white male asshole, I spent the whole book dying for Grace to put him in his place and was delighted when she finally succeeded.)

Meanwhile, of course, Grace and Avia stole my heart. Although Grace’s feelings for Avia appeared somewhat out of the blue and felt a bit like insta-love, I enjoyed their delightfully slow-burn relationship regardless. As a queer woman myself it is always delightful to see myself reflected in the worlds that I love

Furthermore, as a student of psychology I was impressed by the honest and delicate portrayal of Miles’ PTSD and trauma. Once again Polk evidences research and respect for a difficult topic, handling it with grace. Not all novels are capable of treading lightly but also providing a realistic portrayal.

Overall, I enjoyed this book significantly. I would have liked to see a little more outside of Aeland, and I think it could have been paced a little differently at times, but it was a fun and sweet read regardless.

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This series is perfection. I was afraid I wouldn't love any narrator the way I loved Miles in Witchmark (go read that if you haven't), but his sister Grace is wonderful. Her character growth through this book is outstanding. I need you all to read this so I can talk to you about her without giving everything away. Polk balances political intrigue, natural disasters, and a mystery with Grace's family conflicts and budding romance beautifully. I had to force myself not to read the whole book in one sitting. Highly recommend.

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Stormsong continues the fabulous and atmospheric world building from Witchmark, while expanding on the tension. Continuing to balance the actions of the past as well as the pursuit of our future lies firmly on Grace's shoulders. Stormsong is a book that revolves not only around political tension or an electric romance, but around Grace's struggle to figure out who she wants to be. There are so many forces pulling her in different directions, never free of people's expectations, and amidst it all Grace needs to figure out who she is.

Will she forever be the person her father trained her to be? Can she find the bravery to turn her back on her family and her legacy which was built on ghosts and injustice? Are we responsible for the sins of our family, our ancestors, and how do we make it right? Grace is a clever and powerful heroine who must balance Queens, witches, and her own family's atrocious mistakes.

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