Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #2
Published by Amazon Children's Publishing on October 29, 2013
Also by this author: Sanctum, Captive: A Guard's Tale From Malachi's Perspective, Reliquary
In the week since Lela returned to Rhode Island as Captain of the Guard with Malachi as her second in command, local news has been dominated by chilling sightings of human-like creatures running on all fours. Lela knows there’s only one explanation: the Mazikin have arrived in the land of the living.
Needing to maintain the appearance of a normal life for her foster mother, her probation officer, and her classmates, Lela returns to Warwick High along with Malachi. At night they secretly hunt for the Mazikin nest. To assist, two new Guards from very different parts of the Shadowlands are assigned to Lela’s unit, including the bad boy Jim, who repeatedly challenges Lela's authority. Lela struggles to keep all her Guards on the right side of the law, but their mistakes come at a terrible cost.
As one painful revelation follows another and the Mazikin start targeting those closest to her, Lela finds herself more vulnerable than she’s ever been, wanting a future more than she ever has. With an enemy determined to separate soul from body, one question remains: how much is she willing to sacrifice to protect those she loves?
If you remember, SANCTUM by Sarah Fine was one of my favorite books ever of last year. Really, when it came to dark stories with a slow burn romance, it was number one. So, you can imagine my shock and extreme happiness when I learned that my name–little ole me–is in the acknowledgements section of book two, FRACTURED. This was an insane privilege that left me with happy tears in my eyes because it was completely unexpected. However, it made book two an even bigger challenge then I initially anticipated. See, my name’s in this book. It made me simultaneously nervous and anxious to read it. And while I love Sarah Fine’s ability to tell an amazing story, I knew that this book was going to have some plot twists that is really going to make or break this series for some readers. I didn’t want to have such a sincere dedication in a book that I didn’t love as much as book one.
…But I am so happy to report that I feel honored to have my name in this book. Not only does it avoid suffering from the dreaded sequel syndrome, but the novel is taken places that your average young adult read is not. To put it simply, this novel is ballsy, but it also makes it incredibly polarizing. There are going to be people like me who adored every second of the novel despite the heartbreak because it’s taken in such unique directions, and then there are going to be people who feel like this novel was not at all what they expected and they won’t be the happiest campers out there. Hell, I can understand that perspective, it’ll be a lie if I told you that my heart isn’t currently lying on the floor in two separate pieces, but I believe this is in large part due to Fine’s ability to tell an amazing story. To elicit such intense emotions in a reader is an enviable trait, and while I’d rather be experiencing other emotions then my intense grief, my hesitancy to write a proper review because of my crazy emotions is a testament to her ability as an author.
My favorite aspect of this novel was Lela’s character growth. She is one tough cookie and that makes me love her so much. She’s never been in such an extreme leadership position before, so her journey to gaining self-confidence and figuring everything out–including the unfortunate bumps along the way–was very well done. She also learned more about herself as a person because of the new relationships she explored in her high school. Fine made sure that most of her characters were three-dimensional instead of your usual stereotypical young adult cliches. Malachi, as always, was delicious and self-sacrificing, putting everyone before himself. It’s impossible to hate him for this. There was also two new Guards named Jim and Henry that I adored entirely. While they’re not the easiest to work with at times, they further showcase Fine’s ability to take a broken character and set him or her forth on their path to redemption. It seems that everyone has some type of powerful back-story in this one.
The exploration of relationships in this novel deserves a small mention, too. Book one was the process of Lela and Malachi getting together. Now, we get to watch their relationship progress. They’re getting more serious, so they have to learn how to conquer and overcome trials and tribulations. To make matters worse, they’ve got your usual relationship drama on top of creepy Mazikin drama. These two just can’t catch a break, can they? Their story is heartbreaking and real, funny and series. These two are just so passionate and powerful–I love them so much. Aside from that, Fine puts a huge emphasis on the simplicity and importance of friendship because it is such a powerful bond. I really appreciated this and often found myself smiling whenever I sensed this underlying theme.
As amazing as this book was, I want to point out that it does have some drama in it. However, this is the way drama should be explored. It’s not overpowering of the plot and our characters are so strong that they try to avoid it, though their occasional break-downs just add to the realism. As the synopsis suggests, the main setting is a modern day Rhode Island high school. There’s bound to be some catty drama, relationship drama, school-wide drama, etc. It’s an inevitability that Fine handled beautifully. This part of the novel initially worried me because it’s no secret that I despise drama as a whole, but I never felt like any of their real-life experiences distracted me from the plot and instead I felt as if they made the story realistic. Plus, Malachi’s inability to understand the current world and some verbal cues was absolutely hilarious.
Which brings me to the part of this review that I was hoping to avoid…the ending. It’s been days since I have completed this book and I still can’t think about it. It gets my heart beating fast and my emotions are swirling around me in a tornado. It’s terrible and brilliant. It’s terribly brilliant! It leaves me literally begging for book three ten times more than I wanted book two. It promises even more triumph and tribulations, character growth and fighting, love and hate, and a final showdown that just got incredibly personal. I’m literally shaking in anticipation and a desire to be inside Lela’s head once more. I need this book like a baby needs candy, and I won’t rest until I get it.
Sarah Fine has cemented herself as one of my favorite authors ever. Everything that she pens is brilliant. I highly recommend this series to those interested in a unique twist on the afterlife. Perfect for fans of dark stories with amazing romances, I cannot stress how much I love this series.