Cover Image: A Restless Truth

A Restless Truth

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Loved the first book, this is a solid second book, but somehow missed a bit of the brilliance of the first.

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Enjoyed this title most towards the end - the beginning felt a little slow, particularly as compared to the first title in the series. However it kept me interested enough to not only finish it, but to look forward to number 3.

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A Restless Truth is a book that doesn't pick a lane for genre, and I love that. It's a queer historical romance! And a fantasy! And a mystery! An ideal concoction, as we can all agree. The entire book takes place on a Titanic-esque ocean liner, and a shipboard conspiracy mixes together murder, theft, cons, battles, and the hunt for an artifact that could doom all the magicians of the United Kingdom.

Our romance is between Maud and Violet, a story of two women in a world that doesn't make space for them. Violet ran away from her life to bask in the stage's spotlight and live large. Now, an unexpected inheritance draws her home. Only the piles of money and the opportunity to do further damage to her reputation can make her face her old life anew. Meanwhile, Maud just wants to do her brother proud (my heart). Armed with some of his visions of what's to come and little else, the unmagical Maud sets out to save all of magic from itself. Determined and with a strong moral fiber to counteract her parents' lack, she's in some ways an unlikely leader for a secret society of sorts. The romance between the two burns bright and gives both opportunities to grow. Maud boarded the ship not knowing she was gay, and Violet never imagined letting down her guard to make a lasting emotional connection with someone. I found their story to be paced beautifully and especially appreciated that their arguments start early so that they can grow from them. It's not just hundreds of pages of bliss followed by a colossal train wreck.

Perhaps even more than the romance, I loved the story's found family, which includes both our protagonists. The group has Easy A vibes because they craft scandals of sometimes hilarious proportions-- all the better to hide a queer band of amateur investigators. True, Maud's the only one particularly interested in a noble cause. Violet wants the entertainment, Ross is in it for the money, and Hawthorne is being dragged in, less and less against his will. The group is far from all business despite the fact that a shared purpose is the only tenuous link between them on paper. One evening strategy session becomes an erotica read aloud where they act out scenes for comedic effect, and the banter among all four is unfailingly exquisite.

This being the second in a trilogy of romances is fun because you see all three love stories at different stages of fruition- blissfully happy together, falling in love with each other, and picking fights with each other with an undercurrent of sexual tension. I was obsessed with them all and found myself all the more ready to pick up the last book.

Finally, I appreciated the deepening lore in this sequel. We start to learn about a secret women's group that studied magic and could have brought the world to its knees if they so chose. We also get to explore the world of mediums, a handy addition to a book about murder and mayhem.

I'm only too glad to keep recommending this series to anyone who will listen. A Restless Truth is an excellent second entry in a trilogy that's shaping up to be one of my all time favorites. Thanks to Tordotcom for my copy to read and review!

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Freya is such a good author!! I love the characters she's created, the world is so rich and lush, the magic system is fascinating, and the overarching plot holding this series together is super interesting. BUT, I didn't love this one as much as the first. I felt the romance between Violet and Maud was lacking spark. While I did like them together, I didn't FEEL their romance. Also, it was more of "I like you, you like me, let's see where this goes" than a "soul-mate, puzzle-piece" romance which is what I prefer and what the first book in this series was. So, this is a four star instead of a five.

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3.5 I think! I did enjoy this but I think the critiques (the mystery not as solid, the romance a bit cliche), those are all true. The boat setting makes for a compact world, but it also means that there are a few too many coincidences that happen in order to advance the plot.

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So much fun!! I loved that we get to see further into the world Marske established in the first book, but in a way that feels extremely organic and not overwhelming. We get some wonderfully engaging new characters, and I loved how they all interacted with each other. The only thing I disliked is how this book is more or less a murder mystery; I'm not a mystery reader, so I didn't love those aspects, but I was still engaged and wanted to find out how things would end.

While I did enjoy the first book a bit more, this was a fun next installment to the series, and it set up the finale very well. Definitely recommend, even if you're not super into mysteries -- the fantasy and romance elements make up for it!

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A perfect historical fantasy mystery hybrid with sapphic romance at its heart, I fell head over heels for our girls and was on the edge of my seat for the whole book! a satifying ending and a comfy cozy atmosphere throughout despite the peril facing the characters

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I enjoyed really enjoyed this second installment in the "The Last Binding" trilogy. I love the concept of a maritime murder mystery, and I think the story did a great job of playing within that construct in really compelling ways.

Especially considering that a ship has extremely defined parameters, you would think it would feel limiting, but somehow it doesn’t. It has that feeling of a locked room mystery because there’s only so many possibilities in this closed environment, but surprisingly there’s still ample opportunities to string out the suspense. So plot-wise, I just enjoyed this overall. It’s part magical quest, part murder mystery, part romance.

That said, one of my hang-ups with (at least) the first two books is that the sex scenes don’t feel entirely related to the overall plot. They’re kind of used as a break between plot points, which ends up making them feel somewhat disjointed or random in my opinion. I also have to say that Maud and Violet are my least favorite couple out of the three in this trilogy. And I think that’s because they just have such strongly opposing personalities and values.

So it was hard for me to feel entirely invested in their relationship. To be clear, all the relationships in this trilogy have an enemies-to-lovers or at least reluctant-allies-to-lovers kind of dynamic. So while I understood the physical attraction, it was hard for me to make sense of the emotional attraction, if that makes sense. But what also makes it weird is that I didn’t feel connected to these two in this book, but in the third book when all the characters are together and when we see Violet and Maud deeply involved in that story but not as POV characters. I felt more for their relationship at that point, which is strange in a way I can't quite pinpoint.

But overall, this was a solid sapphic murder mystery with just the right amount of magic shenanigans and found family antics. I gave this one a solid three-and-a-half stars.

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I've spoken at length bout this in a video of mine and I'll link it down below but, long story short, it wasn't as action packed or as engaging as a mystery should have been and I was very annoyed at the queer rep in this one. Just no. That is not how sapphic relationships work.

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I LOVED this book! It’s fun without being too cheesy and Marske has developed a beautiful magical world. I loved the relationships in the book, as well as the descriptions of the ship. Marske also has a great sense of humor and provides levity during parts of the book that are dark or scary for the characters. I can’t wait for the next one!

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I had such a fun time reading this book. I love how much comedy is mixed in with the very serious plot. The author did well with making this book stand on its own rather than relying too heavily on the previous book in the series. I think because the story is following a different couple, it helps with the middle book slump that usually happens. Maud is both who I inspire to be but also who I want to help make it in the world. If you like Pride and Prejudice level banter, you're going to love this book. The only thing that took me out of the book was that sometimes the level of coincidence was a little too high for my suspension of disbelief. That all being said, I seriously can't wait to read the next one cause I think it's going to be my favorite pairing of all.

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"A Restless Truth" is a delightful continuation of the Last Binding trilogy. The premise of a week-long cruise on a magical ocean liner filled with murder and romance was highly enjoyable. Marske’s world building, story telling, and character development kept me engaged throughout the story. Can’t wait for the final installment of the trilogy!

Sincere thanks to NetGalley & MacMillan/Tor-Forge for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I'm so incredibly obsessed with this series. The magic system is unique, the overarching plot of the trilogy is great, and I love how we follow relevant characters from the previous book into the next. Something I also appreciate about these books is that - while set in Victorian times - there is not outright homophobia that occurs to any of the characters. Marske mentions that it isn't widely accepted in some places, but it is not a key part of their story. It allows readers who fall under the LGBTQIA umbrella to simply enjoy a story about queer characters without having to feel on edge or triggered about the use of homophobic language

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THIS SERIES IS SO GOOD!! I wish more people would gush about this trilogy! I love the isolation of a murder on the high seas and how our MC learns to embrace her sexuality! I can’t wait for book 3!!!!

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This story is told in third person. It is the second book in The Last Binding series and while I adored book 1, A Marvellous Light, I was a bit disappointed in this one. It read excruciatingly slow for me. Too much time was spent talking, planning and strategizing without moving the story along. There is an overall story arc which I assume will take place over at least three books so while you could read this as a stand-alone sapphic romance, you would be missing some of the magical information and world-building previously mentioned that contribute to the larger picture.

I enjoyed most of the characters, their backgrounds and reactions to others and the events that occurred. The romance between Maud and Violet was a bit steamier this time around and I enjoyed the main protagonists dance around each other and their differences in life and experience. We moved along a little bit in the overall storyline arc finding the Forsythia members and more details on their plans to hide The Contract.

Overall, I had the feeling that this book was suffering from middle book syndrome. I am looking forward to the next book which I believe will feature Hawthorne and Ross and hope that some of the excitement of the series will revisit me then.

Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for a copy provided for an honest review.

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After reading the second book in this series, I think I'm realizing I"m not the right reader for these stories. Freya Marske is a wonderful author and builds an immersive world in these books, but I just can't make myself stay interested in them. I will recommend this book (and the series overall) to my friends who I know enjoy this genre, though!

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me free access to the digital advanced copy of this book.

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A adore this author’s writing - I thought this had such a fun premise, with the whole book taking place over a week and on a cruise ship. It picked up perfectly from where A Marvellous Light left off and I very much enjoyed the intrigue and mystery of this ‘whodunit’.

Loved the cameos from Hawthorne, Robin and Edwin and being introduced to new characters Violet and Ross. I believe the third and final book is going to be about Hawthorne and Ross and omg so excited; the grumpy x sunshine relationship between then was set up beautifully in this book.

Looking forward to reading more from Freya Marske!

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The second book in Freya Marske's planned trilogy was a slow start for me, but the payoff was absolutely worth it. In A Marvellous Light, Robin Blyth is dragged unceremoniously and to his great shock into the hazardous world of English magic. In that same novel, we're introduced to Robin's younger sister, Maud, a girl who isn't quite sure what she wants to do next, but she's positive it must not be anything of which her (recently deceased) parents would have approved.

In A Restless Truth, Maud is undercover on an ocean voyage from America to England, accompanying an elderly women who is almost immediately murdered. (I'm pretty sure it's not a spoiler if it happens in the first chapter.) Determined to be brave, strong, and unselfish, emulating her brother rather than her parents, Maud dives head-first into investigating the murder, the woman's missing belongings, and the magical plot in which her brother is already deeply entangled.

A magical country house murder mystery set at sea, with a lively cast of characters and a shipboard romance, this second installment in The Last Binding trilogy is a delight. It's a strong enough story to stand on its merits, while ably moving the overarching plot along. I think this will improve upon a reread, especially after I devour the final book.

Freya Marske is a brilliant writer with a bright future. I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

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4 stars

I absolutely loved Marske’s first installment in the Last Binding trilogy, and I was hoping that the sequel would be just as good. To my delight, it was a worthy follow-up.

Because the series is a bit of a genre mash-up (the first book was a historical fantasy romance murder mystery), I wasn’t completely sure what to expect from the sequel. Would it continue the first book’s quest to hunt down the items (coin, cup, and knife) of the Contract? Would we follow Robin and Edwin, the heroes and newly-established couple of the first book? Or would this be a ‘sequel’ as in a romance series, where each book can be read as a standalone story? As it turns out, the macro-plot—hunting and securing the items of the Contract—continues, but Robin and Edwin only figure in the epilogue. The story centers around Maud, Robin’s sister, who is travelling back to England from America after having located and collected the woman who holds one of the Contract’s items, a cup. Like the first book, this is a historical fantasy romance murder mystery; the woman in possession of the cup is murdered and Maud must both solve her murder and locate the cup, while also falling in love with a magician named Violet Debenham. Could you read this as a standalone? Technically, there is enough explanation of the Contract for you to hobble along with the macro plot, but I do think that both the struggle over the cup and the ins and outs of magician society would be too confusing to a new reader unfamiliar with <i> A Marvellous Light. </i>

As a sequel, <i> A Restless Truth </i> delivers all of the fun of the first novel but still feels completely fresh. The characters are a mix of British, American, and ex-pat, and we get to see some well thought out cultural differences in magical society between the Old and New Worlds. Maud is a whirlwind of a character, very unlike her staid and practical brother Robin, and heaps of fun to follow around. The circumstances of the setting—the trapped-in-here-together isolation of an ocean liner and the time crunch of having to solve the mystery within the five days of the voyage—add a sense of excitement and urgency that’s a little more lighthearted than the ‘remove this curse before it kills me’ drama of the previous book. The chemistry between Maud and Violet is appropriately sexy, and I really appreciate that their relationship, while both steamy and stimulating, is clearly in its early days; it would have felt odd to be seen as a true forever love after five (admittedly very full and revealing) days on ship.

One thing that I hope to see illuminated further in the final (upcoming) novel of the trilogy is the various powers and immunities possessed by nonmagical people. In the previous book we discovered that <spoiler> Robin possesses foresight. </spoiler> In this book, <spoiler> Maud is revealed to be a medium and another character has a strong resistance to the effects of magic spells. </spoiler> I hope that we learn more of how this fits into the worldbuilding in the next book.

The side characters were all quite good and I particularly hope that Lord Hawthorn has a significant role in the next book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed <i> A Marvellous Light, </i> as it is a worthy follow-up that expands upon the established magical world. As purely a romance, it was nothing particularly special (Violet and Maud’s relationship follows a few standard sapphic tropes, which is a shame as I usually prefer wlw romances but I liked Robin and Edwin’s relationship in the previous book better) but what makes this book, and the series overall, so fun is the eclectic genre mashup and the way all of those genres interlock and work together.

[This book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. However, I am a Bad Reviewer and did not get around to downloading it in time, so I read a published copy from my local library.]

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