Goodreads: Rin is sure that something is wrong with her…something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she’s lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies—magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters—as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin’s own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.
I thought this book was a perfect ending to the Books of Bayern quartet. It addressed something that I thought was very important, but can't say what because of spoilers. But I loved that Shannon Hale saw that something and decided to write a story around it, because I loved that. Gah! It's always so hard to talk about the books in this series because my favourite parts about them are always spoilers!
I really enjoyed Rin. She's much more internalized than any of the other main characters in the series have been. In that way she's very similar to Finn (who is one of my favourite side characters from the previous books). Enna Burning also has a lot of internalized conflict, and this book contains a lot of the same darkness you find in Enna Burning, but this time the ensemble cast stops it from being overdone.
As always, it was a delight to see our favourite cast of characters. There's something so fun about reading a book from a different perspective, and a different set of priorities, but having main characters from other books become side characters, or make minor appearances throughout the book. I'm sure there are more series that do this, but the only one I can think of is Jaclyn Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield series.
This is the only book that doesn't have a main romance, but I really feel if there had been one it would have detracted from the story at hand. And those of you who know what the spoiler bit I reference earlier probably know why I feel that way. There wasn't a point in the story where I felt like it was lacking because of the absence of romance. I wish there were more YA books out there like that! Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the swoons, but sometimes it's nice to read a story without the instalove sexy times.
As I've mentioned before, Shannon Hale is one of those authors who should be on your TBR list if you haven't read her books before. She's a standard to hold other authors by, a classic, and she writes a really diverse range of books. As with all the other books I've read by her, this was a really great read and a wonderful ending to the Books of Bayern series.