4.5 stars -- now THAT's what I'm talking about! After having fallen in so heavily with the last half of Gathering Water, this book just flowed so natu4.5 stars -- now THAT's what I'm talking about! After having fallen in so heavily with the last half of Gathering Water, this book just flowed so naturally out of that and kept me enthralled. I had kind of expected more epic battles throughout this whole book, but it was almost more about Della continuing on her quest to figure out who she is, how she fits into all these new worlds, and making up her own mind about what to think. And so I wasn't actually disappointed that there were only 2 major battles (disappointed b/c Ms. Claire writes gut-wrenching battle scenes, so I sadistically love them). Instead I found myself thinking a lot more than I expected to.
And that's the other thing that Ms. Claire does so well -- she makes these books feel so real. I actually don't mind insta-love, but I also really enjoy when things unfold more naturally. And that is how ALL of the relationships unfold in this trilogy. Not just the romantic ones, but the familial ones too. Everything is not easy and automatic (minus Cash, but he's hard not to love, even for Della). It's not that Della doesn't feel *something* for the people she's interacting with, but it doesn't go from "I don't know you" to "WE'RE ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY" in 60 seconds. So when she finds out Derek is her Dad (not a spoiler unless you didn't read book 1, which then I'm going to have to stop you and make you go read it now), it's not immediate happiness and rainbows. Like everything else in life, there is potential, but it involves work. I really appreciated that.
I will say I was sad about the developments in the romance department, but in the end I understand why it all went down the way it did. I can't really say more without giving something away. I guess I'm just used to all these insta-love relationships, when in reality most people don't find their true love right off the bat.
I LOVED the burgeoning questions about the Clades and Elfennol that came up in this book. I loved that Della does take the time to explore what she thinks, and doesn't just buy into what she's told. I'm really eager to see how that unfolds, b/c shades of gray are so much more interesting than ALL black & white.
Occasionally it was hard to keep up with all the new things we were learning (along with Della) about the paranormal world. So I really loved that there was a Della cheat sheet at the beginning *AND* end of the book. But I still felt confused sometimes trying to remember what everything does (bending earth vs gathering water, etc... Tempering Fire is the easiest for me. I always remember that one), without having to flip back to the cheat sheet every time.
And while I totally expected humour in the book (I mean, Cash, need I say more), I was not entirely prepared for how *much* I would LAUGH OUT LOUD while reading it. And not just in the Cash parts. Totally unexpected bonus people. So awesome.
Finally, I totally call dibs on Cash. It's in writing, so you can all back off now. But seriously, I LOVE the role he fills in Della's life. He's one of my fave secondary characters of all time. Which is saying something, b/c I do have love for quite a few secondary characters....
It's going to be hard to wait for the next book....so many questions to be answered.......more