A Storm of Mist and Thunder (Oncoming Storm #5) by Marion Blackwood
What would you be prepared to face in order to win? Ambushers? An invading army? Your own inner demons? Deep in the mountains, the Oncoming Storm finally finds the other Storm Casters. However, learning to control her powers turns out to be more difficult than she expected. In order to improve, she needs someone to train her but that comes at a cost. On the other side of the continent, the stars elves are marching. When they threaten to take over one of the only unoccupied cities left, the Oncoming Storm gets an offer she can't refuse: rescue an important advisor and she will get the Storm Caster teacher she sorely needs. Outnumbered and up against an enemy who will stop at nothing, the Oncoming Storm and her friends are fighting a losing battle. If they fail, one of the last free cities will fall and the Oncoming Storm will lose her chance to master her powers. Can they outsmart the invaders before it's too late?
Hello book five! So far we’ve watched the Oncoming Storm discover wood elves on her continent that almost starts a war (book 1), keep Pernulans from overtaking her city (book 2), overthrown the Pernulan voting system to make Shade a general (book 3), and escaped the clutches of the Star Elves (book 4). Really, what can’t this little thief do?
We last left Storm on a trip to find the Ashaana - secretive individuals with the power to call forth storms - so that she could finally master her powers. With the help of a star elf’s directions, Storm and the wood elves from Tkeideru reach their hidden camp deep in the forest. Immediately, Storm is welcomed and ushered into training, while her friends make alliances with the other elves of the forest. But danger arises when the star elves march on Sker - one of the last free cities on the continent.
Once again, readers are treated to a sassy, action-filled, and emotional expansion to Storm’s story. While retaining all her typical wit and skepticism to others (really, the whole world), in this installment Storm also battles her greatest enemy: herself. In book four we watched her struggle to contain her powers, nearly hurting Elaran and Shade in the process, and now she has a fear of hurting her friends with her powers. This hesitation causes her to hold back and not tap into her full potential as a Storm Caster.
She doesn’t, however, face this challenge alone. Aided by Marcus, a fellow Ashaana, and Morgora, an elder at the Storm Caster camp, the Oncoming Storm learns about what she can do with her powers and is gradually coaxed on by both of them to improve. But it’s not until she reaches Sker, on a mission from Morgora to protect someone named Malor, that Storm comes into her full powers.
What I loved in this book was how Blackwood demonstrated the star elves’ full effect on others - all their underhanded trickery and determination to generate ‘converters’ are put on full display. And of course, our determined crew must put a stop to the star elves’ schemes. Naturally, in the typical Oncoming Storm series fashion, this involves explosions, sword fights, and awesome escape scenes. All well executed and believable, Blackwood’s writing takes you right into the heart of the battle and makes you feel like your dodging and fighting alongside Storm and her comrades.
We were also treated to a bit more romance in this book! It’s no secret now that Storm and Shade have feelings for each other - no matter how many fights or insults they use to hide it. I like (finally) seeing the softer side of both of them and the determination Storm and Shade have to keep each other safe. It’s a strange balance they’ve struck, but their reasons for caring while keeping distance make sense.
Finally, there’s more to come! The star elves haven’t been defeated, and true danger is closer than ever before. I’m certainly looking forward to where Storm goes next!
To learn more about Marion Blackwood and her Oncoming Storm series, check out her website here.