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Book Review: Curse of the Celts (The Once and Future Queen #2) (ARC)

Expected publication: March 18th 2021

Author: Clara O’Connor

You are accused of crimes against the Code. How do you plead?

After failing to escape the Roman metropolis of Londinium with Devyn, her lover, and Marcus, her betrothed, Cassandra wakes in inky darkness to find the ground giving way to sand beneath her feet.

All three of them have been carted back to the notorious arena at the heart of the city to stand trial by public vote. Cass knows they must escape at any cost: to warn the Celts of the mysterious blood curse ravaging their kin, to foil the schemes of the imperial council…

To find the fabled Lady of the Lake, the one who could save them all.

But even as the jaws of death close in around her, another threat looms in the shadows, a danger she never could have foreseen, a betrayal that could burn down her entire world.

Fans of The Hunger Games will revel in this sweeping dystopian adventure set in an alternate fantasy universe where the Roman Empire never fell.

This novel far exceeded my expectations! Usually in trilogies, the second novel suffers a little as the first one set everything up and then everything is concluded in the third. This novel did a great job as there were pieces from book one that continued in the plot of book two while integrating brand new obstacles. This novel ends on another cliffhanger as there are tons of questions that need answers before the series ends. I am thrilled that I read this novel and continued the series as it was thrilling from start to finish with a lot of twists!

The story starts off exactly where the last novel left off. Cass, Marcus, and Devyn have been caught and brought for public trial after attempting to escape the city. Through a series of events, they manage to escape and are now outside the wall to try and meet a lot of new characters on their journeys.  The world-building continues as we encounter each new location along the way. With the exploration of the world beyond the city walls, Marcus, Cassandra, and Devyn’s magic all gets to be described in more depth.  A lot of the characters learn a lot more about whom they are and tons of secrets are revealed. I was surprised at how many twists and turns this novel managed to fit in without a lot of them feeling forced. There were a few parts that I definitely saw coming based on subtle foreshadowing, but they were done in a very clever way.

There are times where Marcus felt like a nonexistent character as there was a lot going on, but he does keep his essential role in the story. My opinion of Cass stayed about the same as it did in the first where almost her entire being is Devyn. Every decision/thought/action is for her and him to be together. Again, it felt like a little too much for my taste in the story. I did appreciate her character growth outside of Devyn where she is becoming more mature and also more confident. This novel, though, has an incredible amount of pieces in motion at all times, so the plot became the main focus for me, as the reader.  There is a lot that Cassandra goes through in this novel, so I am extremely intrigued to see how she grows in the final novel.

The pacing of this series feels like a roller coaster as there are a lot of fast-paced moments mixed with some slower. I loved how it was done in this novel as it was not full action the entire time and allowed the reader to catch their breath and process some information along the way. The tone is darker as there is a lot more danger as the secrets and backstories for a lot of the characters, both main and backgrounds are revealed. The story sets itself up for a smooth transition into the final novel as everything is put into place for what promises to be a fantastic conclusion!

The Celtic background and stories were amazingly integrated into the story. There is also the story of King Arthur and Nimue that give a lot of background into the world and the magic. It felt like a natural inclusion as the known story of Arthur naturally fit with the story created in this series.  The history between the Romans and the Celts were explained in more depth, so all the outside influences were weaved together in this novel. The stories told were revealed in conversations, but they did not feel like info-dumps as they were seamlessly done in a natural way. It felt like a story being told as one character would reveal a piece of the world rather than information being thrown at the reader.

Overall, this series has grown to be amazing and I would recommend it to any reader. The first book is not for everyone as some, like me, did not fully enjoy it, and others loved it. However, this novel ties a lot of the events from the first and also enthralls the reader more to make them anxious for book three to be released. There is the cliffhanger at the end that I have no idea how it will move forward and I am beyond excited to eventually get my hands on book three! There are a lot of exciting moments and revelations that it is hard to believe the large amount that happened in this novel.  This series has grown on me more than I ever thought possible and I cannot wait for the Legend of the Lakes  to be released later this year!

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Curse of the Celts (The Once and Future Queen #2) (ARC)

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