I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher, Harper Voyager, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever read a sequel that retroactively made you love its predecessor even more, to the point that you actually go back and change your original rating? I originally loved A River Enchanted but had a few issues with it. But upon reading A Fire Endless, all of those issues have evaporated. I think this might be the closest thing to a perfect duology I’ve ever consumed. The balance hear is exquisite, the writing became more and more lyrically beautiful as the story progressed, and there’s just something to be said for a tale of hope and healing; those are woefully infrequent, and I was thrilled to find such a story within the pages of the Elements of Cadence duology.
A Fire Endless picks up right where A River Enchanted left off. As this is the case and I don’t want to potentially spoil the first book, I’m not going to discuss any specifics of the plot. I will say instead that there was instant tension here on multiple fronts, as we pick up fro the climax of the first half of the story. I love how seamlessly Ross wove her story in these two books; they do truly feel like two halves of one longer story that couldn’t quite fit itself into one bound volume. Even considering the aforementioned tension, and the increasingly high stakes, there’s something wonderfully cozy and wholesome about the world Ross crafted within the isle of Cadence. It might be broken, but the potential it carries shines incredibly brightly.
The characters who grew on me so slowly in A River Enchanted had my whole heart in A Fire Endless. Jack and Adaira, Torin and Sidra, Mirin and Frae and others we are introduced to in this second installment, are all wonderful, imperfect characters who I loved rooting for. Our story fractured into various plot-lines here, but I was equally invested in all of them. I love when a story with shifting points of view can accomplish this level of readerly investment across the board, where there’s no temptation to skin through one point of view so the reader can get back to the perspective that interests them most.
Just like the characters have grown on me, so have their relationships. There are multiple relationships here, but the two that are most core to the story are that of Jack and Adaira, and that of Torin and Sidra. Both are beautifully handled, and the growth of both couples from the beginning of the first book through this one is breathtaking. Scenes between the couples are a little less fade-to-black than they were in A River Enchanted, but they’re still very tasteful and far from graphic. These are not spicy romances, but they’re beautifully heartfelt one. The bedroom scenes here are less about the mechanics and more about the emotions involved.
Speaking of romance, I feel like that word truly encapsulates the entirety of the duology. Not just in terms of the relationships themselves, but regarding the setting, and the magic, and the writing itself. The tone of the narrative is intensely romantic. Reading this made my heart hurt, but in the best way possible. Something about the loveliness of Ross’s craftsmanship and creativity made me yearn.
The focus of this entire story is one of healing. Whether that is the healing of an individual’s physical body, the healing of romantic or familial relationships, the healing of the earth or the healing of a nation, every quest embarked upon is done with healing as treasure to be attained. I love how we see this in such a variety of ways in both the physical realm and the spiritual realm. And I still love so much how one of the ways healing comes here is through music. That resonates with me so strongly. There were certain scenes toward the end that made my heart ache, but in such a cathartic way. Ross wrapped up the story beautifully; there’s nothing I would change.
A Fire Endless is an exquisitely lovely end to the Elements of Cadence duology. Ross’s writing is gorgeous, lyrically so, and I can’t wait to read more from her. If you’re looking for a lush, Celtic-inspired fantasy with elemental magic, heartfelt romance, an emphasis on music and a perfect balance struck between high stakes and a cozy setting, I can’t recommend this duology fervently enough. This is a story that I can’t wait to have on my physical shelves, so I can revisit it again and again. If I could actually visit, or even live in, any fantasy world, I think it just might be Cadence.
Expected publication: December 6, 2022
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