Thank you to Hodderscape and Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.
This is the sequel to Nocturna and I absolutely adored this book!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally stepping up to his role as heir and preparing for an International Peace Summit, while Finn is traveling and reveling in her newfound freedom from Ignacio.
That is, until she’s unexpectedly installed as the new leader of one of Castallan’s powerful crime syndicates.
Just when Finn finds herself back in San Cristobal, Alfie’s plans are also derailed. The mysterious organization responsible for his brother’s murder has resurfaced—and their newest target is the summit. And when these events converge, Finn and Alfie are once again forced to work together to follow the assassins’ trail and preserve Castallan’s hopes for peace with Englass.
But will they be able to stop these sinister foes before a new war threatens their kingdom?
TWs: Violence, death, PTSD, hallucinations, mentions of domestic abuse, blood, gore, panic attacks, grief, mentions of alcohol abuse, racism, slavery and colonisation
This book starts a few months after the events of Nocturna and we see that Finn has left and travelled while also committing a whole host of high end robberies and Alfie is now the crown prince and has accepted this role and is committed to serving his people. They are both leading their own paths and yet their minds wander back to each other and I was LIVING for it.
This book is unapologetically Latinx and I loved it! The culture, the clothes the food the language, just everything was so wonderfully Latinx. We also see the royals from Englassen in this book who are colonisers and while Castallan is now free from their enslavement we can still see the generational trauma and how much of their history was lost because of it. The people of Englassen are still enslaved by the white people there so it isn’t even something that is a distant past. It is something Alfie and his people can still see happening. It was so painfully real to read at times but Maya dealt with it so well and called out the micro aggressions that people of colour still have to deal with even now. It reminded me of a lot of the things I would have to smile and tolerate at my previous work place and the white privilege people benefitted from but refused to acknowledge.
When Luka calls a white woman’s skin mayonnaise colour after they are spoken to in the same way I just had to stop for a minute because it was a lot to see it being called out so clearly in the book. I really appreciate how these discusiions happen in the book and we see how Alfie, Luka and the others have to tolerate a lot of it because they are trying to build a peace treaty with them. We also see those who are opposed to this because they do not want anything to do with the colonisers in their home country. Both sides have valid arguments and Maya leaves it up to us to decide what our own opinions are.
I loved seeing Finn and Alfie work together again and how much they cared for each other but refused to acknowledge it because of who they are. The tension and angst is built so wonderfully through the book and by the end I was literally screaming at them to accept it already! They both had such great character growth too, individually and together. We see Finn battle with her own demons and finally overcome them and Alfie becomes the leader he needs to be for his people.
I also loved seeing more of Luka and how much he has had to endure and how he changed because of the events of Nocturna and the guilt he feels but also his relationship with Alfie felt so real. They fight they disagree yet when they need to they are there for each other. I also loved that the King and Queen are present and a part of Alfie’s life. They are great parents and deeply in love and it was such a nice change to see that in the book.
The last 100 pages and the ending left me a MESS. I am still not over all the revelations and plot twists some of which I did not see coming at all even though when I think back the foreshadowing was there and I was shook. The way this story ends left me with the worst book hangover and I absolutely need the next book asap because the wait is going to kill me.
Everyone go read Nocturna and Oculta!