A Storm of Shadows and Pearls (The Oncoming Storm #2) by Marion Blackwood
Summary: What would you do if your past sins came back to haunt you? Hide? Fight them head on? Or scheme and stab them in the back? After barely surviving last year’s lethal power struggle, the smart-mouthed thief known as the Oncoming Storm has solidified her long-standing belief that steering well clear of other people’s problems is the way to live. Even when a whole new civilization sails right into the harbor, she remains adamant. She is not getting involved in another political intrigue. But she might not have a choice. Past sins have caught up with the knife-throwing thief and she finds herself under attack. With more enemies than she can count, the Oncoming Storm has no idea who is targeting her. Or why. Her desperate fight for survival draws her deeper into a web of manipulation, threats, and conspiracies. Assassins, kings and noble lords, as well as strangers from another land, all plot in the shadows. Who will outsmart who? And which side is trying to kill the thief caught in the middle? The noose is tightening. Can the Oncoming Storm solve the mystery in time or will she be forced to betray her allies in order to stay alive?
First of all, thank you to Marion Blackwood for another wonderful ARC copy. I loved A Storm of Silver and Ash (see my review of it here) and was ecstatic to learn that she had written a sequel! And now there will be a third...! A Storm of Shadows and Pearls picks up a short time after book one ends - Edward has become king, the citizens of Keutunan and the elves of Tkeideru have developed a fledgling friendship, and the Oncoming Storm is still the sassy thief she’s always been. Except now she’s in trouble. Someone has her in their sights, and they won’t stop until she’s dead. With so many suspects and little information, Storm finds herself mixed up in something no one is prepared for. I loved that right from the first chapter you can tell that this book continues to build upon the expanding world theme from book one. In Silver and Ash, Storm and the rest of her known world discover the elves, and in Shadows and Pearls they receive visitors from another continent. Blackwood does a great job setting up these Pernulans as “others” - they have a different language, advanced technology, and trade in pearls instead of silver. At times I found myself imagining them as a different species altogether which proves just how alien Blackwood makes these visitors seem. The question remains, however - are they friend or foe? The Oncoming Storm hasn’t missed a beat. She’s still a prominent thief in her guild, is best friends with Liam, and has remained friends with the elves she met in book one. Her sass and courage remain at humorously high levels - until the attacks begin. A series of dangers force her from the world she knew, and we get to see her grow by crafting new, dangerous plans and teaming up with individuals we wouldn’t quite expect. Compared to Silver and Ash, Storm grows at home this time. The trials she endures force her to seek new allies, protect herself more viciously than before, and think about her future in Keutunan on a grander scale. Blackwood also steps up the action in Shadows and Pearls! There are several detailed fight sequences that I adored because we’re walked through Storm’s actions. Every flick of her blades and slash she dodges are captured on the pages, and it’s easy to picture the fight unfolding in front of you. I loved the ongoing partnership with Shade, Master of the Assassin’s guild. While I won’t divulge my theories about him here, I will say that we start to see the man beneath the cloak. Storm and Shade share moments of serious planning, teamwork, and teasing that lie somewhere between a tense truce and true friendship. Both amusing and comforting, the connection that both of them forge with each other adds new depth to their characters, leading to the best teaming up sequence I’ve read in a while! Thankfully we don’t have too long to wait until book three, A Storm of Smoke and Flame, releases later this year. To learn more about Marion Blackwood and her Oncoming Storm series, check out her website here: www.marionblackwood.com/.