Cover Image: Shorefall


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Member Reviews

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.

I was SO excited to get this ARC for two reasons. One, because it would give me a reason to read Foundryside (it had been gathering dust on my bookshelf), and two, the fabulous cover.

Unfortunately, I found Shorefall to be seriously lacking. The digressive plot seemed to scope further backward into the self-referential, while the characters seemed stagnant in this ever-widening world. I could be biased because Foundryside was a chore to read, and thus totally against it from the start. Then again, it's also because Foundryside's most redeeming quality was the friendship developing between Sancia and Clef, which was missing in Shorefall.

Where the first book had some interesting world and character building, this one had none. The characters were dull and uninspiring and it made the book near impossible to finish. The magical system so unique and fun but the author described it at SUCH length in this book that I'm thoroughly burnt out on it.

Shorefall is bloated in length and in plot, but will I read the 3rd installment of the Founders Trilogy? Probably. Something in me is hoping for another glimmer of Foundryside.

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Shorefall is the second book in Bennett’s Founder’s Trilogy. It builds off the foundation that Foundryside set in place, often in innovative and surprising ways. He upped the stakes considerably and included some truly creative and engaging uses for scriving.

If you haven’t yet read Foundryside, scriving is a magic system that’s based on written rules for an object’s function. It’s like a magical version of computer programming! It’s genuinely super interesting, especially in the way you can interact with the different scrivings. By “tricking” them into realizing that some of the definitions they’ve been relying on aren’t what they thought, you can get them to act in ways that weren’t necessarily intended.

Although I had some trouble feeling truly immersed in the setting, that didn’t matter too much since I LOVED all the characters. Foundryside provided a great starting point for their relationships, and Shorefall ran with with. Without spoiling anything… I think my favorite bit was how magic itself helped to deepen the bonds between them.

The overall conflict was excellent, too. Although the Big Bad is both very big and very bad, you sure do find yourself nodding along every now and then thinking… yeah, he has a point, tbh. He really does. But oh my god do we HAVE to resort to genocide to fix things?

Anyway. Yeah, good book, highly recommended!

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Once upon a time there was a small group of uber-powerful folks who truly messed up the world. Luckily that was ages, sorry, I mean, Ages, ago. But now one of those ancient badass power users is potentially going to return and hoo boy is the world in trouble if he gathers all his power yet again. Thank the gods for the plucky group of scruffy underdogs who are definitely not a fellowship and who have decided to risk their lives to prevent the Dark Power’s rise. Anyone? Bueller?

OK, yes. We’ve all heard it before. So you might be forgiven if, upon learning that Robert Jackson Bennett’s newest title, Shorefall (sequel to the fantastic Foundryside), is about a spirited group of outnumbered and outgunned people trying to prevent the resurrection of an ancient power, you think to yourself, “Oh man, not another one of these!” You might be forgiven. But then again, you might not be. Because that would mean you haven’t been paying attention to Robert Jackson Bennett, because you would know he doesn’t do “another one of those.” And really, nobody should be forgiven for not paying attention to Robert Jackson Bennett, who has proven himself to be one of our best writers. Consider yourself duly chastised.

Shorefall picks up three years after Foundryside ends, with Sancia, Berenice, and Orso running their own scriving “house”, one that threatens the entire ruling structure of their city Tevanne. By coming up with more powerful magic? Well, kind of. But really more by coming up with something even more frightening to the city’s hierarchy. A library. A place where the ways of wielding scriving power are not jealously guarded secrets but are shared with everyone else in the city, thus distributing power more equitably. . Though, given these characters, they’re not above a little “borrowing” (cough cough) of their own to add more juice to their newborn project. We’re quickly and efficiently reminded of their relationships: Sancia and Berenice are together, Orso continues to mentor Berenice (though the student-surpasses-the-master moment is clearly on its way), and Gregor, head of their security, still struggles with his inability to always govern his own actions (thanks to being a scrived person). And then it’s off on a tense-but-fun heist scene.

But this isn’t that kind of novel. Well, it is. But not only that kind. Because soon after they learn that Gregor’s mother Ofelia is trying to bring back Crasedes Magnus — the First Hierophant, Destroyer of Empires, Sacrificer of Millions, and they quickly shift gears to how to stop his rise.

But this isn’t that kind of novel. Well, it is. But not only. Because (minor spoiler here) they fail, and Mr. Fear Me I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords is back almost before you’ve finished your first cup of tea while you’re reading. And man does this guy make an entrance. Death. Destruction. Maiming. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. He is exactly the Dark Lord we all know and love (to root against).

But he isn’t. Well, he kind of is. But not only. Because damn if Bennett doesn’t go and complicate things by giving the villain actual cogent (even if appalling) arguments. And I mean that literally. As in, he “argues.” This guy doesn’t throw fireballs and minions at you (well, OK, he kinda does, but not only); he actually talks to those trying to stop him. He makes a case. Sure, it’s horrifying. But it’s not thoughtless. He makes some points. He gets them (and you) thinking. Had he known how to make a PowerPoint he might have even won some of them over.

And Bennett doesn’t stop there. He further muddies things by having Sancia’s best ally, the just-as-old-and-nearly-as-powerful-as-Crasedes construct Valeria (she’d been created by the First back in the day) clearly working within her own agenda even as she helps Sancia and her companions fend off Crasedes. So, the Big Bad is not as mindlessly bad as usual, and the Big Ally might be kind of bad. Well, at least we can fall back on Gregor’s mother Ofelia, the scheming matriarch willing to sacrifice even her son to her own greed. At least Bennett gives us one simple villain to, wait, hold on, my people are telling me that, yes, no sorry, turns out Bennett makes her more complicated also. Well, damn.

Throw in Polina, a former slave turned revolutionary who tries to convince Sancia that she should give up her “bloodless revolution” and turn to more direct means of breaking Tevanne’s “hold upon the world”, lots of talk about humanity’s nature and our species’ relationship to power, and the group’s own rising doubts about the efficacy of their methods, and things no longer seem so simple. In fact, they are stimulatingly complex, giving the reader lots to chew over with the higher plane of their reading mind even as their less-snooty part eats up all the explosions, thefts, horror-style- killings, sword fights, torture scenes, unexpected betrayals, stunning revelations, and hi-speed car chases. OK, maybe not that last.

But seriously, this is a roller-coaster of a novel, certainly more action-oriented and fast-paced than other Bennett works I’ve read. I wouldn’t call it “breathless;” we do get time for some of those nature of humanity debates mentioned above, and some quieter moments between characters, but it certainly grabs you and pulls you along at near break-neck speed. On the one hand, the compelling nature of the pace is definitely a strength. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have minded a little more time spent with the characters — their internal debates, their relationships among themselves — especially as I know just how good Bennett is at such things. Plus, I enjoyed the layered way in which the character’s personal situations are microcosms of the larger discussion surrounding power, technology, empathy, and what we do (or don’t do) with them. And since we’re in minor criticism territory, I’ll just toss in that at times the magic system, which is generally great, was perhaps a little too detailed or relied a little too often on the innovation Sancia’s group came up with (“twinning”).

But those are, as noted, minor criticisms. Shorefall is an excellent follow-up to Foundryside. Different in style, but equally as thoughtful and, even better, thought-provoking. It ends in brilliantly contradictory fashion both with a bang and a lovely, quiet meditation. Though as one character notes, “This isn’t over at all, is it?”

Lucky for us readers, the answer is no. We’ve got more of Sancia and friends to go . . .

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This book is a strong follow up to an amazing first book.

Sansa and the Foundryside group are trying to set up their business in a city that has changed drastically. Meanwhile, the construct found in the last book is warning that her creator is on it's way and will be causing problems.

I want to read the history books written for this entire series, the world has such depth that I wish I could soak in it for days and days longer. Bennett does an amazing job of building on top of his world to add more complexity to the 'scriving' as the known technology and methodologies expand. This means there are twists and turns that would be difficult if not impossible to expect. This book is a wild ride from start to finish,

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Foundryside, the first book in this trilogy, was really well-balanced. It told an engaging story, was populated with unique characters, and took place in a vibrant setting. While I’m still taken with this world and the city of Tevanne, most of what I enjoyed about the first book was left behind.

I had been intrigued (and somewhat confused) by scriving, the reality-altering magic system introduced in Foundryside. Because of its complexity, each act of scriving requires considerable explanation and exposition. Shorefall doubles down on scriving and this magic is so integral to the plot that if you’re not on board with it you’ll be left searching for other things to enjoy.

Unfortunately, the characters seem stagnant and there’s no room for them to breathe amongst the massive set pieces and high stakes of the story. In many ways, this felt like a trilogy capping novel instead of a middle book, so it’s unclear how the momentum will carry over for another book and I’m unsure if I’ll be along for the ride.

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3.75- After loving Foundryside and how unique it was, I was excited to read Shorefall. First I must say I LOVE the artwork on both books and have purchased both. I enjoyed how the book started but didn’t realize there was such a time span(3 years) between the books. I felt that the “villain” in this book was introduced too early and more buildup to what was happening should have been drawn out. The middle portion was at times slow paced due to the extensive talk about the workings of the lexicons. This book involves deciding who to trust and seeing those you care for controlled in horrible ways. I did enjoy reading this book but it was not the page turner I was hoping it would be. Very interesting ending and I’m looking forward to book 3!

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I think part of why I had so much trouble with this book is just because I'm having trouble concentrating on anything lately due to the general circumstances, but I see that quite a few other people had problems with it as well so maybe it isn't entirely down to that. At first I thought Crasedes was a great character and villain, but as the novel dragged on I kind of lost the plot and had trouble distinguishing what everyone's goals were and how all the plot points were supposed to fit together.

Also it's a total cliffhanger ending which kind of makes it feel like nothing was accomplished for the whole book. I have this problem a lot with the middle book in a series [not sure if this is planned to be a trilogy or something longer but I feel it still applies] where it seems like the entire book is just a way to move the characters from point A to point B with no real progress made overall. There were still some good bits and I do still love the main characters and the general premise of the world so I will give it 3 stars, but I hope the next book has a much tighter plot. I don't remember how long the first book was but this one felt like it needed some major editing.

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On May 13th I participated in a joint review of Shorefall on my blog, Dear Author. You can find the review here:

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This is a second book in a series so I don't want to give away any spoilers from the first book, but I LOVED this continuation of these characters story.

I was surprised that this starts three years from where the first book left off that time leap seemed a little weird to me at first but as the story progressed I really came to understand why the author chose to do that.

I loved getting to see all of the characters that I came to love in the first book in this second book and see them growing and changing still.

I feel like this book was very action heavy which I loved but I know that there are some out there who may not like that but I really feel like the action happening in this book helped to wrap some things up from the first book and fuel book three.

I think that if you loved book one you will love this one as well and the magic just gets fleshed out so much more in this book I feel. I can not stop recommending this series to friends and family.

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My Rating: 4/5

<i>Thank you Random House Publishing Group for providing this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.</i>

<i>Shorefall</i>, the second book in the Founders trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett, is rich with world-building, morally grey characters, thrilling plot twists, and damn good writing. Bennett's magic system was amazinggg in <i>Foundryside</i> but it reaches a new level with <i>Shorefall</i>.

<i>Shorefall</i> picks up a three years after the exciting conclusion to <i>Foundryside</i>, when Sancia and company obliterated one of the mighty campos. With Clef still dormant, Sancia, Berenice, Orso, and Gregory have allied with Valeria and established a scriving library to both sabotage the remaining merchant houses and help those in the Commons access the technology. Everything's business as usual until a Hierophant is brought back to life and little can stop him from obliterating the city of Tevanne. Bennett had me guessing who was the big bad until the end and I’m sure he’ll find a way to turn me around again with the final Founders book.

There were a few drawbacks for me:
<i>spoiler</i>-Lack of balance between action scenes and "character moments" – I love action scenes but our characters jumped from one intense scene into the next and it was exhausting.
-The dialogue between Ber and Sancia – they’re a unit throughout the book but in the last quarter, they started to excessively call each other ‘dear’. It was weird.
-Chapter 16: Sancia is trying to work around a scriving and tells Bernice she’s out of ideas. I find it highly improbable that Sancia forgot she could manipulate the object’s definition for time/duration.
-The ending was a tad too melodramatic.

Nonetheless, <i>Shorefall</i> is a suburb novel and absolutely does *not* suffer middle book syndrome. If anything, it’s better than the first! :)

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Shorefall, by Robert Jackson Bennett, is the follow up to Foundryside and the second installment of the Founders series. The author has once again shown us how outstanding world building, but together with great characters, can draw you into a world beyond your imagination. It is an epic fantasy tale that you are sure to enjoy.
It is three years later in Tevanne, Sancia, Orso, Berenice and Gregor are all back and they are trying to change the world. They want to make scriving available to everyone and Sancia in particular wants no more slaves. They have started their own foundry and though they are small, they are mighty. By changing the way society works they hope to break the hold that the large foundries (i.e. the Dandolos) have on the people.
They are just starting to put their plan in action when a wrench is thrown into the works. The wrench being a heirophant. The first heirophant no less and he is dead or should be. It seems that Gregor’s mother has found a way for him to live again. Now that he is here, he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
I normally give a much longer synapsis; however, I hate spoilers and I don’t want to spoil anything for you, though I have to admit I am tempted to tell you more. This is a great plot and there are a lot of unexpected turn of events that you will not see coming and I just can’t bring myself to ruin it for you. The author used these twists creatively, and they keep you engaged. This made for an exciting read and I know you will think so too.
The characters in the book are well thought-out. I especially liked the interaction between the various characters. They felt authentic.
There is a lot to take in with this book. The rules for scriving and the way everything works will keep you on your toes. In fact, I found it a little too cumbersome at times. As such, it is the one negative for me.
You really need to read Foundryside first, if you have not already. It will get too confusing if you don’t have the first book as the background. However, if you are a lover of epic fantasy you will not mind as all reading or rereading book one before you tackle this one. The imagination it took to create this is mind blowing. Super inventive story sure to entertain. Don’t miss out on this one!
I received a free electronic copy in exchange for my honest review.

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I absolutely loved this book. It was both everything I wanted and everything I didn't know I wanted.

This book is a sequel to Foundryside, one of my favorite books of 2019.

Shorefall takes places a few years after the end of Foundryside. This book includes a bit of the heist atmosphere from the first book, but a heist is not the main focus of the story. Similar to some of Robert Jackson Bennett's other books, he focuses on godlike creatures, the questions of omniscient power, and the fight of the little guy.

The magic system in this book is just as fascinating as the first book. It is a great continuation of what we learned in Foundryside, and how the system has evolved over the years between the books.

This book is very different from Foundryside, so I can understand where there are some fans of Foundryside who do not like Shorefall as much. I enjoyed the difference and cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy! Hopefully in 2021?

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✨A sequel so nice I read it twice: Review ✨

Ho boy, how do I begin to sum up a book of such a grand scale? For the sake of no spoilers for this sequel in Robert Jackson Bennett’s Founders Trilogy I’ll start at the beginning.

Foundryside was one of my favorite books of 2018. It was such an interesting world of an industrial-like city full of dueling merchant houses and all the seedy underground heists that come with that territory. The scriving magic system that operates like a combination of old fantasy’s sigilry and modern day coding that convinces objects that their reality is different than it is was so fun to explore. A fun ensemble cast was led by a complex young woman with her own traumas who had an unwanted hero’s journey thrust upon her. That heist plot mixed with a healthy dose of humor throughout made for a great start to a series.

Now with Shorefall, it takes all of that and turns it up to an 11. Little did we know that we were just scratching the surface of what this magic system was capable of. The stakes and villains have approached god-tier so much so that by 80 percent of the way through this book I was convinced the author had decided to make it a duology instead because like ~how~ could the characters make it out of the ominous situation. While we still remain in the city of Tevanne, the scope of everyone’s actions just feels so consequential for the entire world, which we’re now bound to see more of in the finale book. For fans of the first book, it has bits of the fun heists, interesting developments for the characters we love from the first book, and even more to speculate on in the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Shorefall: Book 2 of the Founders Triology by Robert Jackson Bennett
Read first as an eARC from #Netgalley (thank you #delreybooks!)
Then listened to as an audiobook with narrator Tara Sands
One sentence synopsis: The Foundryside crew are scraping together their grand plan to bring down the corrupt merchant house system when an ancient evil returns to disrupt everything they know.

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Shorefall is the second installment in Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Founders Trilogy. If you have not yet read the first book, Foundryside, you should do that now because it is phenomenal! Book one was released almost two years ago so I had to refresh my memory on several characters and plot points before starting this one. Waiting for the next installment in a series is very hard for me, so I typically wait until they are almost complete before diving in. The synopsis for Foundryside sounded too intriguing to wait so I made an exception and I am so glad I did. Shorefall was worth the excruciating wait and the homework I had to do to prepare for reading it.

Much like its predecessor, my favorite aspect of Shorefall is the magical system that Bennett created. It is mind blowingly (it’s a word) unique and I could not help but get lost in the richly detailed descriptions of scriving. The story picks up three years after the explosive events of book one, and our rag tag band of scrivers are busy trying to incite a revolution. Despite initially needing a few reminders, I was astounded at how quickly I was able to fall right back into this world. I missed Sancia and Berenice and the rest of their crew so much and it felt like catching up with old friends.

The action picks up immediately as the group meets with one of the merchant houses under the guise of the sale of a valuable new scriving technique, in order to steal some important information. During this scene, Bennett quickly reacquaints us with these characters and provides an update of what has been happening in Tevanne for the past three years and their plans moving forward. Soon after this meeting, the group finds out that Crasedes Magnus, the first of the hierophants, is about to be reborn and all hell will break loose if he is able to return. Despite the high from a successful mission, the group must quickly change tracks to stop Magnus at all costs.

The plot of this book moves at breakneck speed and does not let up until the very last page. There is so much character development for Sancia, Berenice, Gregor, and Orso, and for some unexpected characters as well. Shorefall is jam packed with revelations and answers some of the big questions from book one, including Gregor’s past and Clef’s true identity. Bennett gives us more of the sweet romance between Sancia and Berenice, clever banter, action, and even crazier magic than before. It is a wild ride that I could not put down and much like the first one, I have no idea how I will survive until book three which has not even been announced yet. Send help!

My biggest thanks to Del Ray and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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3.5 stars

You can read all of my reviews at

I loved Foundryside, the first book in this series, and anxiously awaited the second. So, when I was finally able to read and review this book, I was giddy with excitement. Sadly, it fell into the all-too-common "second book" funk. Don't get me wrong, it's still good, but it fell short in comparison to book one.

Some time has passed since the events of the last book. The Foundryside firm has been struggling to compete with the larger merchant houses in Tevanne, who don't like the competition. As Sancia, Orso, Gregory and Berenice work on their latest scheme, they discover that a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving, has been resurrected. The hierophant is determined to change Tevanne, and doesn't care how many people die to accomplish his goal. But who is he, and why is he hell-bent on destroying the world? The group struggles to find a way to stop the ancient one, who is always one step ahead of them.

I think perhaps one of the reasons I didn't like this book as much as the first is that Clef is absent for a majority of the story. He added a lot of humor and wit to the first one, which is sorely lacking in this book. The story here is a bit darker than the first, and the group is in much more dire straits. The hierophant is an ok villain, but he wasn't someone that was fun to hate and root against. However, there is still plenty of action, and the writing is top notch. This book did it's duty by moving the story arc along and ended on a good cliffhanger. While not as good as the first book, I still recommend you read this interesting, unique series.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Series Info/Source: I got an eGalley of this book to review through NetGalley. This is the second book in the Founders Trilogy.

Story (5/5): The book starts out with Sancia and the other Foundryside crew working on a heist to steal important magic from one of the main Houses. This was fun and very much fit with the Ocean’s 11 like feel of the first book. Then things quickly get more dire as Sancia finds out that Crasedes Magus (an evil hierophant) is about to be reborn. Sancia is in the unique position to help stop his rebirth and rushes to do so.

The story was very well done and ended at a good spot. There was never a dull moment here, despite the long length of the book. I really loved it and it was incredibly engaging.

Characters (5/5): All of the characters in this book have a lot of depth and are very well thought out. They are all quirky and have somewhat of an anti-hero feel to them. I continue to be impressed with how much I love these characters and how complex they are.

Setting (5/5): I love the city of Tevanne and love the scriving magic that makes this city thrive. This is such a rich and well built world and I enjoy every second reading about.

Writing Style (5/5): The book is very well written, well paced, and just very well balanced. There is some neat magic, lots of action, intriguing politics, and wonderful characters. The whole thing makes for a very well packaged story that is unique and highly engaging. I am a huge fan of Bennett’s writing.

My Summary (5/5): Overall I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book. It’s a well done total package with a great story, great characters, a unique world and wonderful writing. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for an entertaining epic fantasy that is approachable and just pure fun to read.

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(The Founders Trilogy #2)
by Robert Jackson Bennett
This is a book I requested from NetGalley and the review is voluntary. This is a good fantasy adventure that follows book one some unknown time after. It makes more sense to read book one first. I didn't find this one as exciting as book one. It has some of the same characters and new ones too. Like the magic use!

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This second title in The Founders Trilogy series does not disappoint. All the favorites from the first book, Foundryside, are back; Sancia, Gregor, Berenice, Orso, and (after waiting over half way thru) Clef.

Our intrepid heroes are still reeling from the destruction of The Mountain in the first novel, but have a plan to finish off the campo system by twinning all the Michiels scrivings into all the lexicons in the land and provide autonomy to all the citizens Tevanne. If that sentence confuses the heck out of you, you haven't read the first novel and you will be completely lost trying to start with this one. That being said, I can only highly recommend you immediately read the first so you can enjoy the second.

We pick up with our entertaining quartet 3 years later. The first third of the book goes quick; there is action, feats of courage, laughably simpleton bad guys and a risk free getaway for our heroes.

It all quickly goes downhill for them after that. An ancient evil being, one of the first to exist (maybe a god?) manages to come back into existence. He intends to take all of the power of all of the scrivings for himself and rule unchecked over everyone on earth. But he needs Clef to accomplish this and Sancia still has Clef locked safely away.

The bad guy manages to get his hands on Clef and things are looking hopeless. By the middle third of the book the action pretty much stops and we are treated to soliloquy after soliloquy of the state of mankind, the virtues of free thought, the need to take humanity by the hand and show them the error of their ways, how better off men would be without the power of scrivings helping everything work. Much as I love this series, I did start to feel I was trudging through a sea of thick mud there for awhile.

Finally, in the final third, we are back in action again, there are feats of derring-do, but things look grim for our good guys and they begin to wonder who they can trust. The ending is everything you could want; uplifting, heartbreaking, hopeful and with just the barest hint of something more to come. I appreciate an ending like that much more than the usual cliffhanger that just stops mid-action.

Much love to this second installment of the series, but again (and I can't stress this enough) you will be completely lost if you haven't read the first in the series. So please do, it's worth it.

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This is a review I really did not look forward to writing, unfortunately I was unable to even finish Shorefall. I tried reading the eARC for MONTHS and then switched to the audiobook after release, hoping that that would help me get into it more. I was SUCH a fan of the first book, and I always hesitate to read sequels because I do not want them to bring down the series. Unfortunately that was EXACTLY what happened for me. This book actually has me questioning my actual enjoyment of the first book. I read Foundryside right as I was diving deep into adult fantasy, before I truly knew what I liked within a story. What was the positive thing about the first book was still VERY present in the second book- this book is SMART. The use of “coding” within the story is smart. However that is about where my praise for the second book stops. I didn’t feel invested at all in the characters this time around and the plot felt very all over the place. The pacing felt super strange. This time around I was also VERY aware that Bennett’s writing style just does not work with me. He likes to repeat words A LOT and put unnecessary spacing(?). Overall this was a pretty big disappointment and it makes me really sad.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a digital galley in exchange of an honest review.

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Shorefall is a spectacular sequel to Foundryside, set in a Steampunk-like world caught in a battle between two God-like entities, determined to make things better for the people of Trevanne.

I enjoyed the complex character building and plot twists that change the perspective of the narrative and question the intentions of the antagonist(s) and whether or not our band of heroes are doing the right thing, or making things even worse.

I look forward to the next book (and I still believe this series could be the next cinematic blockbuster).

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