Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
What happens when the fairytale ends but the journey continues? Book II of the Heart of All Worlds series finds Sehrys and Brieden living peacefully in Khryslee. But when King Firae breaches an ancient, spellbound pact by crossing The Border into Villalu in pursuit of a convicted criminal and is trapped there, Sehrys is forced to ascend the throne in his absence, a role he was once groomed for, but Brieden fears and dreads. Meanwhile, Firae must rely on the very criminal he was after to help him reach home alive—a man his own mother exiled long ago but who awakens something in his heart more potent than his sworn duties as king.
As each man struggles to understand his own destiny, devotion, and legacy, a deeper and more urgent truth confronts them all: Their world is in far greater danger than they realized, and each of them plays an integral part in its fate.
The King and the Criminal by Charlotte Ashe is the second novel in the author’s “The Heart of All Worlds” series. I had previously reviewed the first entry “The Sidhe”, which was a favourite of mine, and I’m happy to say that this one is a more than worthy successor.
While Brieden and Sehrys still play a pivotal role and there is quite a bit of character development for them, we now get to follow the journey of another pair of characters who both have already been introduced in the first book: ruler of one of the Sidhe nations and Sehrys’ former fiancée Firae and Tash, a Sidhe who has been exiled to the human lands for his crimes. But even more so than in the first book the romance part of the story is intricately intertwined with greater narrative of political upheaval and a more imminent threat to the whole of Villalu. The author did a fantastic job in balancing out the change of focus. Not one scene feels superfluous or out of place here.
Tash and Firae are both really interesting and engaging characters and I have greatly enjoyed following the progression of their relationship. I’m especially fond of Tash because unlike Sehrys or Firae he was not naturally gifted with powerful magical abilities or influence but relies mostly on his wits and aptitude for learning to work through a tricky situation. Firae on the other hand is rather impulsive and temperamental. You can see how there is much for them to learn from one another. While theirs is definitely not a love-hate type of relationship, there is quite a bit of wariness (but also mutual sexual attraction) between them at the beginning of their journey. The pacing is really well done and I found it quite believable that these two would eventually develop stronger feelings for each other.
Much to my delight the human twin sisters Cliope and Brissa are getting more attention this time as well as they keep on working towards uniting Villalu under the rule of the latter. And though they seem to be making good progress in that regard, things aren’t as simple as an ancient magic threatens to destroy all of humanity and it is up to a select few to prevent it from happening. The world building is quite detailed and this time we get to see more of what’s going on behind the barrier and learn in greater detail about the culture, society and magic of the Sidhe.
If you’re a fan of Fantasy and are looking for a well-written story with detailed world building and engaging characters, I can only recommend this series and you can be certain that I’ll be eagerly awaiting its continuation.
I simply adore the cover and interior illustrations by Sarah Sanderson. They are so unique and beautiful. I especially like that if you compare the covers of the two books, you can clearly see the difference in the dynamics between the two couples based on their gestures and facial expressions alone.
ebook, 325 pages
Published December 8, 2016
by Interlude Press
Edition Language: English