Review: Second Chance Soul (Second Chance Academy #2) (ARC)

Expected publication: December 4th 2020, 272 pages

Author: Ella J. Smyth

“On the first day of the new term, I witness a brutal kidnapping at the academy. But when I report it to the head witch, she fobs me off.

Soon, dark powers are coming for my friends and me. I know one thing: only united can we stand against the unknown enemy.

But with our powers still developing and my boys fighting each other, I don’t know if we will survive the second term at the Second Chance Academy.”

The mysteries surrounding Second Chance Academy student Amber Whitman continues in this second installment of the series. Second Chance Soul definitely is for a more mature audience compared to Second Chance Fate as there are more “adult-themed” scenes and discussions throughout and is also a major featured plot point. As this novel is a continuation of the first book, it is better to read the first one before continuing to this one. It is not impossible to understand everything, but you would miss out on a lot of the backstory that would help your full comprehension of the story.

Amber’s new school term is beginning and her two boyfriends, Julian and Kiernan, are initially away on their holiday break. While walking around campus, Amber witnesses a kidnapping where an older student, Matt, is abducted. The male that Amber initially met in line when she first tried to eat at the cafeteria gets involved trying to help Matt, but fails. This sets up the opening for this new boy, Lance, to join the main part of the story instead of being mentioned in the background. Eventually, he becomes the fourth member of the romance group with Amber, Julian, and Kiernan. The difficult part is that although Lance says he’s only interested in Amber, it seems that he might also be involved with Amber’s roommate, Sharron. One of the mysteries the book sets out to solve is to find the truth behind Lance’s feelings. (You’ll have to read the book to find out where Lance’s romantic loyalty lies.)

As the novel moves forward to setting up and working towards a conclusion to the overall mystery, we do miss out on some elements from the first. As an example, the tension between Magic Born and Magic Conduits (those that came into magic later) doesn’t seem to play a major role, but was set up to be a big deal in the first.  Instead, we have the main conflict of the mystery behind these abductions and what is actually happening at the academy, especially with the introduction of new “beings” such as nixies and fae.  Slug plays a bigger role in this novel as he is the key to helping move the main story forward.  It was nice for the cat to play a part as he was incapacitated for the majority of the first novel. Amber and Slug had more chance to bond and some of Slug’s secrets are revealed and I’m curious to find out more.

There are many places in this story where you get frustrated on the decisions that some of the characters make. However, when you remember that they are teenagers and sometimes they just dive head first into something without fully thinking of it through, then it starts to make sense. (I’m not limiting this to just teenagers, as many adults still do this, but it is a trait typically associated with this age group.)  The hormones are always thought of to be going crazy for this age group and this novel follows that idea entirely. Amber’s relationship with Lance advances a lot faster than her initial interactions with either Julian or Kiernan as she is attracted to him so she acts on it without thinking, in a way. This occurs multiple times with almost all the characters where they seem mature at one moment and then immature in the next. The one thing they remain open and mature with is the normalcy of polyamorous relationships where all the characters accept it and are comfortable with the idea of someone being with more than one partner at a time to form one group.

Overall, this novel didn’t do it as much for me as the first, but it was still interesting and enjoyable. It is fast-paced and an easy to follow read. It only took me a couple of hours to read as it kept me interested to see what will occur next. A lot of clues are sprinkled throughout that most likely will be used later in the story, so I can’t wait to find out how it all pieces together.  Similar to the first novel, there is a lot mention of the quint being the ultimate relationship. I guessed correctly of who the fourth would be in the group and I have a good feeling about who will join next, although I won’t know for sure until I actually read it. As a word of caution, this one ends on more of a cliffhanger compared to the first which can be frustrating as the next installment is not due until early 2021. This series definitely has me intrigued as I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

**Thank you to BookSirens and the publisher for my review copy to read. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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