Considering that A Spark of White Fire was one of my most memorable reads of 2018, my expectations were nothing short of astronomical for this sequel. I was simply blown away by this installment in the Celestial Trilogy and will sell my right thumb to read Book 3 now. (2021 edit: book 3 was well worth the wait!)
About A House of Rage and Sorrow
Publisher: Sky Pony Press | Release Date: September 17, 2017 | Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
“Maybe it’s time the great House of Rey came to an end. After all, what are we now? Just a house of rage and sorrow.”
Esmae once wanted nothing more than to help her golden brother win the crown of Kali but that dream died with her best friend. Alexi broke her heart, and she vowed to destroy him for it. And with her sentient warship Titania beside her, how can she possibly fail?
As gods, beasts, and kingdoms choose sides, Alexi seeks out a weapon more devastating than even Titania. Past lives threaten the present. Old enemies claim their due. And Esmae cannot outrun the ghosts and the questions that haunt her. What really happened to her father? What was the third boon her mother asked of Amba? For in the shadows, lurking in wait, are secrets that will swallow her whole.
The House of Rey is at war. And the entire galaxy will bleed before the end.
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Review for A House of Rage and Sorrow
Narrative style: first person | Perspective(s): dual (Esmae, Titania)
This review is spoiler-free for A House of Rage and Sorrow but may contain spoilers for A Spark of White Fire. Please exercise caution and don’t even read this book’s synopsis if you haven’t read the first one yet.
“I can’t walk away from an end of my own making. My choices, my mistakes, my consequences.”
I apologize in advance for how incoherent this review will likely be to read. I finished reading A House of Rage and Sorrow about seven hours ago and am still reeling from the perfection that is this trilogy. Mandanna has burst all notions of the Middle Book Slump, crafting a fast-paced plot and characters you can’t help to fall in love with. Grab some tissues, friends, this one is a beautiful and emotional journey.
If it has been awhile since you read Spark, Titania has included a very useful Dramatis Personae at the beginning of the book which should get you up to speed. I was also REALLY HAPPY to find there are a few chapters from Titania’s point-of-view in this book! I love her wit and sarcasm, but also her intense love. I’d love to have her as a friend.
A House of Rage and Sorrow pulled me in right away and gripped me until the very last page. Considering I have been slumping HARD and struggling with SFF, this says a lot. I found it to be action-packed and fast-paced, but I never felt my eyes glazing over fight sequences.
This book made me cry so many times while reading it. But not necessarily because of events in the book… no that would be too easy. I love all of the characters so much that just peeking into their lives was overwhelming for me. Mandanna has created a world that feels so real I could visit it on a spaceship; characters so fully realized that I feel like they are a part of my family.
The stakes are as high as ever in this book, and considering that death in the previous book I was an anxious pile of nerves while reading. I am a complicated human who both wants her beloved characters to be okay but also wants it to feel like they couldn’t be. I don’t know what this says about me, but my most memorable reading experiences involve not knowing if everything will be okay and the fear someone I care for could be ripped from me.
“The war isn’t just out there; it’s in me, too.”
Esmae is very much dealing with everything that happened in the last book, and I appreciated the spotlight was cast on her trying to overcome her feelings of anger, grief, and betrayal. Her pain and rage permeate the pages, almost taking on a life of their own. It always sucks to watch a character you love suffer, but it is such an authentic feeling reaction to everything she has been through. But amidst all her pain are those who care for her, who want to protect her from more pain and whose banter makes my heart swell will so much joy.
“All I can do is stay with her, even when there is no one else, neither of us is ever alone. All I can do is stand guard between her and the secrets that will swallow her whole.“
I am glad that my favorite cantankerous bodyguard Sybilla is featured a bit more prominently in this installment. Grumpy characters who are total softies on the inside for their people bring me an intense amount of joy, and I love her friendship with Esmae in this book. There is also a budding f/f romance that I cannot wait to see develop further in the next book.
I love the way that Mandanna leaves breadcrumbs in the narrative and the feeling of payoff I felt each time everything slides into focus. A lot of questions you’ve had will be answered, but more will come in their place. This trilogy is plotted intricately well, and the fact that this book is as much about dealing with the consequences of A Spark of White Fire as it is setting up for what is sure to be a phenomenal finale.
“The truth can hurt, but once you look it in the eye, you can transform it. This doesn’t have to be your truth forever.”
This book is phenomenal and will definitely make my favorite books of the year list. I am so invested in Esmae’s journey through her grief and channeling her rage through the war she waged, but this story is also about her confronting those ugly truths and accepting them. I honestly canNOT wait until book 3 comes out and will continue screaming about this series until you all read it. If you thought I’ve been annoying over the last year, you’ve seen nothing yet. 😉
Content warnings: death, grief, loss of a loved one, war
Representation: disability rep (prosthetics), lesbian side character, f/f romance, genderfluid ancestor, periods
Thank you Sky Pony Press for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss for my honest review! Quotes are taken from an unfinished and uncorrected excerpt and may not match final publication.