Title: Burning Shadows
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Series: Order of the Krigers (Book 2)
Release Date: October 15, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
The Order of the Krigers has risen.
Determined to destroy the Order, the vicious king, Morlet, scours the land searching for the twelve chosen ones. He burns entire villages hoping to crush the Krigers.
He has other plans for Kaia.
In order to end the curse, Kaia must conceive a child before the Krigers can kill Morlet. However, Kaia doesn’t know if the father is supposed to be her fiancé, Vidar, or his brother, the evil king. Determined to find the answer, she sets off to the other side of the mountains with Anders. Stifling her growing feelings for the assassin, Kaia unearths secrets that force her to reevaluate her cause. Can she sacrifice so much of herself to save the kingdom of Nelebek? Can she kill Morlet when she is starting to understand and even sympathize with him? And is there really any choice at all, especially when it comes to matters of the heart?
With newfound power, Kaia’s heart and mind are entwined with the realization that choices come with a price, passion can rival hatred, and an evil looms on the horizon, more sinister than she ever imagined.
Burning Shadows, provides us with backstories of many characters and interesting pieces of history from the kingdom of Nelebek. At the end of book one, the stage is set with a daunting future for Kaia and the Krigers. By intentionally releasing tidbits of the past, Burning Shadows focuses on solidifying each character’s personality. There is a continuous build-up of tension in each scene, no matter who is featured at that particular time, ever straining towards the inevitable fight against Mortlet to save the kingdom.
Throughout this book, all 12 Krigers intently focus on training daily together. Guided by Vidar and Anders, the Krigers learn how to fight together and support each other. Friendships and bonds are forged between them, including Kaia, the only girl and the last to join them.
Despite being just 16, Kaia has unbelievable insight. She exhudes a maturity that keeps driving her forward towards the end goal, to free the people of Nelebek. Kaia is more often than not, the one who comes up with ideas especially while working with the other Krigers. Although Kaia is the lone female and the youngest of the 12, the other Krigers look to her for insight. I believe it is because she is so central to the curse, her journey is unique and they each seem to respect that. Together the Krigers experience a lot of trial and error in their attempts to link and wield the Heks power bestowed to them. The Krigers must discover each fighter’s part in the curse and how to reach the end goal to defeat Mortlet. Kaia is quite instinctual and she relies on her intuition, despite opposing opinions. She genuinely has a good heart and throughout this book it becomes more evident just how contrasting her personality is from those around her…Mortlet in particular. He is cruel and disregards life, while Kaia is sensitive to each individual. Kaia constantly struggles to hold true to her philosophy of valuing each innocent life.
Kaia is determined to improve her fighting skills and bolster her mental understanding and emotional grasp of the unique roll she is forced to endure under this curse. She constantly contemplates her conflicting feelings of disgust and pity while skeptically trusting the erratic kindness from Mortlet. Her emotions are endlessly churning in an internal war with her consciousness to fulfill her father’s dying wish in her engagement to Vidar; a position that would inevitably lead to her being queen. She battles with how to discount her growing feelings towards Anders to be able to fulfill her family’s part of the curse and have a child with one of the royal brothers! All of these consuming burdens relentlessly weigh on Kaia, who keeps much of her inner turmoil to herself.
Book two is really a necessary bridge from book one to book three. Apart from the introduction of new Heks and Heks magic into Nelebek, most of book two concentrates on developing Kaia’s self-awareness and her understanding of the people and situations central to freeing Nelebek. I love these characters and as always, Jennifer Anne Davis does an amazing job of telling their story.