Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #3
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Pages: 385 (Hardcover)
Source: eARC from Netgalley/NYCC14
With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge. But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own. Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands—the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin.
The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help—and love—of people she barely knows or trusts. As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn’t the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end?
It's very hard for me to say goodbye to this series. SANCTUM, book one in this series, is among my favorite books ever and Sarah Fine is both a dear friend and favorite author of mine. These characters have a special place in my heart and so does Sarah, not only for acknowledging me in book two, but also sticking with me for so long as a friend. It's weird to see that their story is over.
With that in mind, I am extremely happy to report that this is a satisfying ending. It has one of those awesome final showdowns with lots of death and destruction and twists that make your heart beat fast and breathing shallow while you flip pages. It makes you wonder if you'll have a chance at getting what you want as a reader, and it makes you worry for the survival of your favorite characters. Then again, when are we ever not freaking out over Lela and the gang? I mean, the mazikin are ruthless and constantly trying to kill them. Speaking of which, we finally get some answers in regards to the mazikin, which is simultaneously terrifying and fascinating all at once.
I was wary of this book because of how I felt at the end of FRACTURED. This cliff-hanger was among the worst ones I've ever encountered. It literally ripped my heart out. I could see it laying on the floor next to me beating pathetically because I was so done with the emotional trauma Fine inflicted in me. Granted, the fact that she elicited such strong emotions from me is a great sign, but it took me reading the final book to finally get over that.
Lela is as strong as ever. While we finally see a vulnerable side to her in the way she breaks down every now and then, I'm happy this happened. There's only so much a girl can take. While I have so much respect for her, it was almost necessary to see her break down--to remind us that despite the fact that she is a Guard with noble intentions and kickass fighting skills, she's still a human being with a broken heart and ten times more despair than the average person. The fact that she is still standing and fighting for what she believes in is a testament within itself. This girl has heart and we need more heroines like her. As for the other characters in this novel, I'm not going to say anything aside from the fact that they are as strong and diverse as ever. While we have many returning and we are finally getting to know characters we have only previously glimpsed, there are also many new ones that stand out among the rest. They're very real, very solid, and vair vair interesting. Fine can definitely characterize.
Plus, I automatically give major props to an author who can keep us interested in one love match throughout an entire trilogy without even entertaining the idea of a love triangle. You've saved my heart from being torn apart again by doing this, Sarah. I'm sure I'm not the only reader thanking you.
I also have to say I like how this story was set up. It never slowed down and it read really fast. Initially, the story seemed much shorter than it was because there's this huge climax in the Shadowlands and your mind is completely blown from it all and then you sit there...realizing that the book is not done. There's still more! And that more is another type of climax in and of itself. It's the most final showdown there could possibly be and it is even more twisty than you initially thought. It's as if so many separate plot lines are getting tied up beautifully with a pretty little ribbon on top--obviously splattered in some blood because when are Fine's deaths ever clean and simple? They're always cool and fascinating.
Onto my negatives...there are really only two nitpicky things. The first being that, at times, I felt like the action was almost too fast and perfect. Granted, Lela has a lot more experience now, but it's like her gut was always correct seconds before things happened. Everything was just so fast. I was literally taking mental breaths. Also, as I said before, I'm super indebted to these characters. I want to know how everyone ends up. As we know, there's a life after death in the world that Fine has created so even if they die, there's more. I want to know that more for a few certain people. Are there reunions? Are there lies and shocks that were never expected? What is next for them? Perhaps a novella? I'm totally down for reading one.
I suppose the reason I can't give this book five stars is because of how much SANCTUM means to me. This book is amazing and while this entire series is among my favorites that I will push onto everyone, I can't say that this book is quite on the same level as book one. It's right under par, but it's falling just short. I'm attributing this to the fact that book one was so shocking and powerful that it made us love these characters and while the rest of the series was their story, that initial whoa-factor just can't be repeated.
So, if you haven't gotten the gist of this review yet, you need to read this series. Our friendship may be at stake if you don't. ;)
Warning: There is violence and death in this, also the mention of drugs. There's mild language and mature situations as well.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.