A Disappointing Sequel That Feels Like it Was Written by Someone Else | Review: Feast of Sparks by Sierra Simone

5:30 AM

 Not a lot to say here except, ah, yikes. This truly didn't work and doesn't hold up when compared to A Lesson in Thorns.


I’m an outcast and a loner, named for death itself. Fate wasn’t supposed to have plans for me.

But then she came back—the girl I once kissed in a thorn-covered chapel in the woods. She came back, and I could no more resist her than I could pry out my own heart. And by some trick of fate, she wants me as much as I want her. The only problem? She also wants the man who owns Thornchapel, Auden Guest.

And so do I.

Eight years ago, I did something to Auden, something terrible. He hurt me back the only way he knew how, and so here we are: our hatred seasoned with pain and my loneliness seasoned with longing. The only thing we can agree on is Proserpina Markham, and she wants us to find a way to be together—all three of us.

If Auden wants to earn her as his submissive, then he has to earn me as well.

But with the discovery of bones behind the altar and the carnal revel of Beltane fast approaching, it’s becoming clear that Thornchapel’s secrets are much deeper and older than any of us could have ever guessed. And no matter how bright and merry a feast of sparks may be, it’s always followed by ashes.

And darkness.

Feast of Sparks by Sierra Simone
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (1.5) 

"It just feels right, like when all of us are together, some essential connection is made that can't be made when we're apart."

Sigh. This is not a fun review to write, because I so looked forward to this novel. We all know how much I love Sierra Simone (one of the queen's of the genre) and how I totally adored A Lesson in Thorns, the start of the Thornchapel series. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of its sequel. In fact, I'd say that, at most, I tolerated Feast of Sparks instead of having enjoyed it. It felt sloppy and the way it unraveled was a little incoherent and nonsensical.

Feast of Sparks picks up fairly quickly after the events of A Lesson of Thorns, which is fantastic because that cliffhanger was massive and I *needed* to see where the story would go next. Nothing says unexpected like lost virginity in the Thornchapel, rituals and, you know, finding the body of your long missing mother the next morning.

Let's just say that Sierra Simone knows how to keep her readers dangling over the edge of their own anticipation. All eyes were on her prose for the continuation. It's obvious why. With the first novel, we had such a gorgeous and unique setting and premise. And, true, A Lesson in Thorns was so rich with angst, sex, and mystery. It intrigued from the start. It was, in short, one of the best starts to a series I'd seen all year.

However, one of the things that made Feast of Sparks feel a lot less developed was the lack of exploration following the grief Poe might be suffering. All of it felt rather blink-and-you'll-miss it, which is unusual for Sierra Simone. All the intrigue and mystery and emotionally charged nods of the first installment was gone; in its place was something more hollow and dull. I felt like there was a huge question mark over the general story arches in Feast of Sparks and it was so, so disappointing.

While the sex was brilliantly charged with magnetic energy and a whole lot of changing partners, there were a lot of issues I had with how it wove itself through the novel. I think that Melanie said it best with her review: it was a mess. I actually agree with every issue she raised in question of the novel, so definitely read her review for a more in depth look at why so many parts of this novel were packed with problems.

I am with her on many of her central points--the unprotected sex, back to back, is a massive no-go from me. That's not a great thing to portray in anything. Ever. I also agree with her about the lack of communication re: BDSM and whatnot during specific scenes for Saint and Auden. (Auden is textbook abuser being masqueraded as a ~dom~ and that's another can of worms that I am just not up to opening today.)

The fact that we have a group of bi characters is WONDERFUL, but it's curious that we have yet to see more exploration of the women together. Thus far, we've mostly seen the F/M, M/M and hints of the core group of six, sexual scenes in detail. In and of itself, that's a problem.

Not to mention the little flashbacks between two sixteen year olds, that has no real business being written in the way it was due to the fact that there were kids. Look, I am all for normalizing sexuality. It's perfectly normal. But in this context, an erotic novel written explicitly for ADULTS, it is not a good look. Oh, and the age old Cassandra Clare "is it Incest?" trope, which is always a no. It cheapens the novel even more..

Only one good thing will come from that: it will probably be a cop out. Hopefully. However, it is totally unnecessary and gross. It left a bad taste in my mouth but, frankly, so did a lot of things in this novel. I had high hopes for it, but perhaps that is my own fault and not Simone's. She set out to tell a story and I don't fault her for that.

At the end of the day, I will likely not continue on with the series--unless the issues of Feast of Sparks are cleaned up and pushed back on track. This book just wasn't for me and felt like it'd been written by another author entirely. 

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