Review: Prisoner of Darkness by Nissa Leder

7:00 AM

Prisoner of Darkness (Whims of Fae, #2) by Nissa Leder | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me by the author. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I'm going to start my review of the second installment of Nissa Leder's Whims of Fae series the very same way I began my review of its predecessor: Oh. My. God. It's not a secret that I adored the introduction to this world, The Two Princes of Summer, nor should it come as a shock to anyone that Prisoner of Darkness was at the top of my most anticipated reads. I was allured by Leder's prose instantly--and soon, I became entirely lost in the beauty of this world she has created. Without a doubt, Nissa Leder is an author readers should be looking out for in the future. And Whims of Fae is shaping up to be one of the very best, and underappreciated, YA releases in recent memory.

Much like with The Two Princes of Summer, Prisoner of Darkness had me bewitched from the very first chapter. There was so much that happened through the course of the first book that my heart was thudding in anticipation for what came next in the lives of Scarlett, Raith, Cade and Kaelam. After that killer ending to the previous book, I was left in a pool of emotions and excitement.

Now that a small fraction of time has passed since Scarlett's stay in Faerie, and the series of events that transpired and changed her life forever have passed, there are so many questions to be answered. Scarlett is no longer a mere mortal, though she is back to the mortal realm--for now. Her relationship with her sister is repairing itself. Underneath the surface, more has changed for Scarlett than just her mortality; her efforts to keep her powers under wraps, the relationships she shared with Cade and Raith.

In many ways, we see her first living in the aftermath of her adventures elsewhere. You don't so easily recover from your entire world changing. Scarlett has gone through many things that have clearly left their mark on her. But, that is what happens when you've been changed to a Fae and betrayed (left for dead) by the boy who brought you there to begin with.

Still, for her, there were many ups to contrast against the downs when it comes to her experiences--the relationship she holds with Raith, her chance to truly connect with her sister in the way siblings should, grasping onto a newfound strength. Scarlett returns to the mortal realm as a new person and it's a delight to watch the development she has faced in the span of two books.

Now, as to not spoil readers when it comes to all the plot twists and turns that Prisoner of Darkness possesses, I'll highlight some of my personal favourites from the book:

  • Kaelam. Ah, call me a sucker but I love Kaelam and his arrogance and the banter he has with Scarlett. And, well, everyone. Not only is he exceptionally magnetic (see: his powers and good looks) he is a deeply intriguing character. Similar to characters like Morpheus from Splintered and Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses, he adds that extra depth to the plot as well as a level of moral grayness. You never quite know what to expect from him, even as the narration centers around him and his thoughts. A lot of what we learn about Kaelam in Prisoner of Darkness is very, very appealing because he is a different kind of character when compared to everyone else. I'm curious by him, his feelings and his family (in particular, his sister Aria) and court. You kind of can't help it. 
  • The exploration of the other courts. A majority of this novel takes place in the Unseelie Court and I'm really keen on Leder's take on everything. Once again, her world-building is fantastic and tangles fantasy elements with sprinkles of our world tossed in for good measure. We see more interactions between Faerie Courts and frankly, it's fantastic. It makes you want to know more about this world, its tensions, its history. All the court drama! All of it. We see some new characters, some peculiar alliances, and the fights that ensue, new settings, etc etc. I liked that the world is continuing to expand for us.
  • Raith and Scarlett's relationship. In fairness, there aren't as many scenes between these two as I would like. That's not a problem at all, because what we do get--the strength of their bond, their (shall we say) fondness of one another sizzles across the pages. I adore these two. So. Freaking. Much. 
  • ALL THE SCARLETT AND KAELAM SCENES. I may ship the heck out of Raith and Scarlett but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the tension between these two. Boy, is there A LOT OF TENSION between them. A lot. It spices things up. In a way, I ship Scarlett and Kaelam with many. I can't help it, they're so likable?! They have this sort of connection that just hits you across the face even when things are less than desirable. It's not just Kaelam's powers, either. Plus, I liked that he took her under his wings when it came to mastering her new-powers.
  • I actually enjoyed the tension between Scarlett/Kaelam and Cade/Poppy. I didn't think I would. I am not 100% what to think about where this may go, but the angst is glorious. Just fun, you know? In a stressful, "OH MY GOD!" kind of way. Especially one particular scene--ahem, a fight scene. A literal fight scene. Phew.
  • The way that Cade and Raith's fight for power ended in the previous book and how it carries over to this one. Cade really messed up in the way that he allowed his mother and ambitions to get underneath his skin. You could tell that he is very conflicted and torn between right and wrong and you can't help but wonder if he'll ever truly learn his lesson. We see that struggle continue for one reason or another. 
  • Although it was heartbreaking, I really appreciated the parallels and disappointment that came with one choice that Kaelam makes in regards to keeping Scarlett on his side. Let's just say, he should have known better--but those in his position often can't afford the luxury of trust. So, it does get messy for a time. I am very concerned about the aftermath of it all.
  • Scarlett's powers, potential bloodline and continued growth. Deep down, she still is the Scarlett we know and love. Her changes are subtle but still pack a serious punch. I can't wait to see more of her. 
  • Raith and the search for the truth about his mother. I didn't see any of it coming. I'll just leave it at that because, again, spoilers. I loved how determined he is and that we see this softer side to him. 
  • Her role is small but still pretty prominent, but I'm loving Sage so far. I need more of her. 
In short: Prisoner of Darkness was FANTASTIC. It delivered just the right amounts of suspense, action, romance and fantasy--it is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, A.G. Howard and Sarah J. Maas. If you enjoyed The Two Princes of Summer, you should prepare yourself for this next installment because it blows that one out of the water. Nissa Leder does it again!

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