Sometimes there are book series where I don’t need to reread the previous book before diving into the sequel. Sometimes, I want to reread the previous book before the next book releases. And then there are some that I should have reread but didn’t. The Glass Spare and The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano is one of those series.
**This is a sequel so there may be slight spoilers for The Glass Spare included in this review. Continue reading at your discretion!**
Determined to save Loom, Wil returns home in order to discover the origins of her curse. But the castle she grew up in has changed drastically. Her father is dead, and her second oldest brother, Baren, has taken over as king of Arrod. As secrets unfold, the Southern King makes moves to punish his children and take over Arrod while it is vulnerable, leading Wil back into his dangerous path.
While I remember the basic plot of The Glass Spare, I felt a little lost while reading through The Cursed Sea. I didn’t remember the stipulations in regards to Loom’s curse or what happened after Wil accidentally turned her brother to crystal, but over the course of the story, these details trickled back in. I didn’t feel like I had the complete story in my head when I read, but it’s also been over a year since I read the first book.
Beyond that, though, I enjoyed The Cursed Sea. Reading about Wil and Loom and even Espel felt kind of like coming home. The world was familiar, the characters relatable. I love Wil’s resolve to do whatever it takes to save the people she loves most and her ability to understand people, even if they are kind of terrible. Loom, of course, still slays me. His brooding-ness is tenfold in this book, and it is fantastic. I need more characters like him. I liked the inclusion of new-ish characters also like Loom’s sister Espel and her bodyguard/lover Masalee. They’re badass and basically awesome. Zay proves to be a noteworthy character as well, and I like how her relationships with Wil shifts for the better.
One of the aspects I wanted more from the first book was Wil’s relationships with her brothers, mostly Gerdie. And this book pulls through. When Wil reunites with her family, the dynamics between her and her brothers are brought to the focus. Even up until the end pages, those relationships play a big part in fixing Wil’s curse and bringing peace to the rival kingdoms.
I also still like the world-building. It has castles and kingdoms but also electric lights and guns and alchemy and it was all sorts of cool and weird. I want more fantasy books with this weird steampunk vibe, please! This book could also have benefited from having a map because at times the placement of the different kingdoms or parts of the kingdom were a bit scrambled in my head.
Parts of the plot were predictable, but then there were times I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. There was a lot crammed into this book, and sometimes I felt a little lost, thinking “What the actual heck is happening right now?!” But it’s fun, thrilling story with a good cast of characters, interesting world-building, and a solid conclusion.
Because the ending of The Cursed Sea is perfect. It ties all the loose threads together, giving us a full explanation of Wil’s curse, and it brings in a little bit of the unexpected. Overall, if you liked The Glass Spare, you’ll enjoy The Cursed Sea. If you haven’t read The Glass Spare yet, you should.