I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Reliquary #2
Published by 47North on August 2, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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Mattie Carver has relinquished the world of magic, with all its dark temptations. In six weeks, she’ll marry Ben Ward and claim the safe, small-town life she craves. But Mattie’s talents as a reliquary—someone able to smuggle magic within her body—make her a valuable commodity, even to those she trusts the most. Forced out of retirement by a painful betrayal, she must seek the help of the man she’s tried desperately to stay away from: Ben’s estranged brother, Asa.
Asa, a sensor and magic dealer, may have saved Ben months ago, but he’s complicated Mattie’s life beyond imagining. Trailed by lethal mobsters through Chicago’s seamy magical underbelly and an eerie traveling carnival, Mattie struggles to endure the priceless magic she’s holding and her feelings for Asa. Once, she thought she’d chosen her path. Now the only option may be to succumb to the destiny that’s choosing her, and hope she’s strong enough to survive.
When I reviewed Reliquary, the first book in Sarah Fine’s series of the same name, I talked about how much I enjoyed the world-building that went into the book and also the second main character, Asa, but that I was pretty annoyed by main character Mattie’s willful blindness and outright denial, despite some of the better personality traits she displayed. I remember hoping she would be given the opportunity to open her eyes to the truth about her life and some of the people in it—specifically, her fiancee, Ben. So I was delighted that book 2, Splinter, provided the opportunity to bear witness to that.
And I was not disappointed. True, Mattie spends much of the first part of the book stubbornly attempting to hold on to blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it, but eventually she starts to wise up. Which is great because I don’t think I could’ve taken this bullheaded blindness of hers beyond this read—in fact, I remember thinking as I was reading that she needed to get her head on straight by the time this book ended or I would lose interest in future reads, so I’m glad things worked out the way they did. But I did find myself raging quite a bit that it took metaphysical rape and more betrayal before she got shaken up enough to wake up and smell the poop she was sitting in.
The one saving grace, though, was that I was glad that the author had Mattie make the decision she made about the love triangle she found herself in, because any other choice would’ve seemed forced or would’ve shortchanged the characters in later books.
Outside of the interpersonal connections, though, there was a really meaty story to this book. Splinter had just as much action and intrigue as Reliquary, and it led me on a gloriously convoluted chase to a resolution. The revelation of what’s ailing Mattie might not be so surprising, and I felt like it took a Mattie a long time to figure out what happened with her grandfather because the truth was staring her in the face and claiming to love her, but honestly, all that was just the beginning.
I liked that there was a bit of a mystery as to how all the parts of the FUBAR Mattie found herself in fit together, and of course I loved that it was Asa to the rescue once again, not because I was happy Mattie needed rescuing, but because Asa’s just so good at it, even if he’s angry at having to do it so often. I also enjoyed being drawn deeper into the secret magical world Mattie’s on the fringes of, which Asa navigates with utmost discretion, except when she’s involved. And there was that element of imminent danger that seemed to track the characters from start to finish, which kept me turning pages.
It was a great read, and I was glad that Splinter saw Mattie undergoing a major transition in attitude and outlook, so I have very high hopes for the next books in this series. Which is why I’m quite glad that book 3, Mosaic, will be released in November.
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