WARNING: Spoilers for Nightshade follow. You might want to look away if you haven't read it. Or you could read my review. :)
After the nightmare that was supposed to be her union, Calla Tor is not at all surprised when she finds herself waking up somewhere she has never been before. What follows her reawakening is what frightens her. She is trapped in the hands of her sworn enemies, the Searchers & they've got Shay. Only... no one is trying to kill her & Shay seems quite content as well.
It turns out the Searchers not the purely evil folks that the Keepers made the Guardians believe they were all this time. It turns out that the Searchers are the other half of the Keepers in a centuries-old struggle for harmony & balance. Over the course of the next few days Calla learns the true history of her people, what it means for Shay to be the "Scion" & helps plan the rescue of her packmates.
Unfortunately a lot happened in Vail during her nightmare & things aren't how they were anymore. Wolves are being stripped from their human halves, wraiths are being repeatedly used as torture devices & some Guardians are being outright murdered, all to prove a point. The Keepers believe that as long as they continue to lie & convince the more powerful wolves (including the alphas), then the rest will simply follow orders. What they didn't plan for was a new alpha & what happens when you lie about even the most basic facts.
Andrea Cremer continues to take us on a wild ride with the second installment in the Nightshade trilogy. While I have to admit that it did include some of the more banal qualities of a 2nd book in a trilogy, I think this was a key plot-building time for this story. So little time passed in this book (like I'm talking 2 weeks at most) but SO MUCH happened that alters where your allegiance lies & how the story will move forward from here.
Calla continues to intrigue me as she has now become the uncertain character that I tend to tire of in books, but her uncertainty is pivotal to her character development. She has had everything she has ever known stripped from her & everyone she loves is in grave danger because of her actions, so her response is natural & expected. I must say that I was rather impressed with Cremer's ability to make Calla a tortured character without over-stating her reality. Sometimes readers are beaten over the head with the sadness that the characters are experiencing, but Cremer held a fine balance on giving us a glimpse at Calla's emotions & then moving straight back into the action.
We meet a whole new cast of characters that you'll instantly like because they resemble the wolves so much while establishing their own unique identities. The Searchers are a fun-filled, dedicated group of watchers who will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of the world. Even better is the description of their world & the Old Magic that they practice. We don't see the Keepers' magic at all really, but with the Searchers it is such an integral part of their existence that it permeates their world.
I really enjoyed this book in the series as so MAJOR developments occur that will alter how the story can move forward. I will warn those worried about content that there is some sexuality involved & some hinting at violence used for domination, but nothing scandalizing. I look forward to seeing what Cremer brings us in the final installment Bloodrose due out in January 2012!
ARC graciously provided by Around the World Tours