Against all odds, Cara has been reunited with her brother, Frank. But at what cost to her companions? At what cost to herself? Collinefort is a place of intrigue and lies, where menace lurks in the shadows.
In greater Mordoux, the Salamander’s forces attack the resistance without end. Under the Mantle is civil war. Noble against slummer against commoner, and the rot plague against all.
Death stalks beyond the trenches. Who will rise to stop it?
Yolandie Horak can often be found typing away at the computer or nibbling at the end of a paintbrush. When not writing or making art, she spends her time cuddling her daughter and husband, reading, fangirling, or gaming.
She resides in Calgary, Canada, but misses the milk tart and koeksisters she frequently ate in her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa.
She's a steampunk enthusiast and writes gaslamp fantasy with political and medical flavours. Her books appeal to lovers of grim tales with loads of intrigue and drama.
She is also the founder of LuminLore, an eclectic small business celebrating the union of art and stories.
She has been a passionate blogger since the dawn of time, and updates her blog weekly with art tutorials, her thoughts on writing, book reviews and experiences as an immigrant.
Find out more at www.yolandiehorak.com, and be a dear and follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.
Wow, this was so much more than I expected! I laughed, I cried, I really felt for these characters!
I love how certain relationships developed and others unraveled - it was so real. There were no cliches and nothing was predictable about this book! Cara's character development was phenomenal and absolutely believable, considering the trials she faced in this installment. I absolutely cannot wait for the next one to see how Cara and Sera band together to save the world.
Thank you so much to the author for kindly sending me an e-book copy for review.
As a disclaimer, I was provided a free copy of Sparks & Kindling in exchange for an honest review. Since I had intended to read S&K anyway I believe the largest impact receiving the free copy had was making effort to put more detail into my review.
It is rare that I rate a book five stars, let alone a sequel. Even if objectively I can't see much wrong with a book of its genre, I leave five stars for 'favourites' where I enjoyed the book that extra bit more than an objectively great 4/5 book. S&K blew me away, and is a benchmark in my mind as an example of excellent storytelling. The twists caught me off guard and were amazing.
S&K continues on seamlessly from where A&S left off, plunging the reader into the new region of Collinefort. Some mysteries of the first book are explained in this one, and new mysteries come into the picture. I was sucked into the plot through the increasing danger that each character is experiencing. The risk of death is much more immediate in S&K than the first book, because the antagonists have the main characters in closer proximity. There were more action scenes, which had me binging chapters at a time. I couldn't guess where the story was going to go and constantly felt on edge. The closest comparison I have is when I watched Alien for the first time, where muttered things like, 'No! Don't go in there' and 'There's all going to die, aren't they?'.
Like A&S, the descriptions were immersive. There was an increased amount of violence in this book, and the gore was well described as it wasn't over the top. The medical aspects made the injuries all the more believable. The tension builds until the three-quarter point, lulls a little before resuming the pace for the end. Because of some events that happen right before the end I felt empty, though found how this resolved itself was satisfying.
There are not many new characters introduced in S&K, as the book largely serves to delve deeper into the minds of the ones from A&S. I liked the new characters that were introduced and found them interesting (no matter whose 'side' they were on). There is an extra point-of-view character introduced in this book which I enjoyed immensely, since he was one of my favourite characters from book 1.
Due to the focus on spies and manipulation in the story, it was often difficult to determine what is true or not from what characters say. This is the first book I have read where I was constantly questioning the information presented to me. I had essentially been gas-lighted through the other characters and felt like I was the crazy one. I found myself distrustful of every piece of information and paranoid, as much as some of the other characters. I'm still not entirely sure whether parts of what I read will be disproved in the next book. This was a unique experience to feel while reading, and it may be a result of completely embodying a chracter's mental state.
The romance was well done. I appreciated that A&S had a range of different sexual orientations for the characters, and this is the case here. The relationships between them are not as black and white as 'character A dates character B' or 'character C friends with character D', with nuances of romantic and aesthetic attractions thrown in there. I hesitate to call Lance and Sera having a romantic platonic relationship, but that is very much how I interpreted it. I liked how one character made an assumption of what their interactions were like and Lance shot her down immediately. This is done carefully enough that I was able to guess how a particular interaction between two characters were going before the character realized it. There are a few sex scenes in the book which 'fade to black' but were tastefully done up until to 'fade to black' point.
I cannot think of a single downside to S&K. I highly recommend this series and I can't wait to read book 3.
The sequel to A Study of Ash and Smoke was everything I hoped it would be. Following Carabelle’s journey outside of the mantle, we find our characters dealing with paranoid King, a mind-blowing conspiracy to gain control of the crown, and Sera fighting for her and her loved one’s survival.
Thank you to Author Yolandie Horak for gifting me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
Multiple POV’s that have come together to form the big picture in a magnificent way. Ms Horak has found the golden balance with her five POV’s in this series. From book one to book two, the flow has been phenomenal.
The complex storyline that will have you rooting for your favourite characters like never before. Horak weaves an intricate tapestry with her story thread, and with this book, the picture becomes a little clearer with every chapter. I cannot wait for the next book to see how this all comes together.
The narrative highlights the complexities of working with people. Horak’s characters are multi-dimensional with so much depth, that you can’t really hate the bad guy. But you can definitely dislike him on a really deep level. Adding much-needed colour with cultural practices and behaviourisms, you cannot help but get swept up in this story.
“In Dvara, coffee is a sacred thing, almost as sacred as the gods, the bears and ale.” Dvara is definitely a country I can get behind.
The world-building was and still is expertly done.
The pace of the book is great. In comparison to the first book, this action-packed one will have your adrenalin pumping most of the time. The rest of the time you will find yourself trying to solve some of the mystery.
Lovers of We hunt the Flame and the Deathless Girls will enjoy this series.
After finishing A Study of Ash and Smoke, I NEEDED more of the characters and intrigue that make up Horak's Fall of the Mantle series. A Trial of Sparks and Kindling doesn't disappoint, starting off with intrigue and secrets that set a demanding yet deftly handled pace. While there are several perspectives and plots at play, Horak deftly weaves them together. Not a word is wasted nor a character mishandled. Secrets and lies whisper in darkened corners and each character must strive to discover their own truth: who they are, what they want, who they will be. Alliances are fragile, friendships are tested. Allies become friends, and some become chosen family. And underneath all of this are themes of trust, of love, of forgiveness and regret. Each plotline and each character plays skillfully off of all the others.
Horak has created a rich world filled with visceral descriptions of the stark realities of war and plague, and populated it with a vast cast of unique characters each looking for their place in that world. Watching them grow, change, and become closer... and in some cases farther apart by their choices, is a breathless journey that brings smiles and tears, and sparks an intense desire to learn more, to read more. Overall, an excellent read!
I do believe that summarizing the previous books in a series has become a lost art and I absolutely adore the way that the end of the first book was summarized; very short, very smooth and very succinctly!
Book 2 takes up where book 1 left us, our friends found by the people they went in search of and are now safe and sound in their hands; right? Has Cara risked everything to escape one hell only to stumble into another?
My most memorable moments: - Cara seeing Celestine while in the closet...!!! amazingly scary and direct!!!!! - Conversation between Lance & Sera while she plays piano... - The author's masterful way in bringing addiction to life. - Chapter 41 is important because Ahmed explains to Lance about being asexual. - The incredible, diverse cast of characters!!! - And so many more!!
Yolandie Horak does it again! What an un-put-down-able novel!
The world expands immensely in the 2nd installment in this series, with our main character having escaped from under the mantle - a force field dome covering all of Aelland - and made it to her homeland of Mordoux, where her brother is the king and leader of the resistance.
However, all is not as it seems. As the previous book tought us, enemies can actually be friends, and this one teaches us that friends can turn out to be enemies. Cara is submerged into a game of lies, manipulation, drugs, betrayal, and trickery. Her friends form important aspects of her journey, and the greater depth into characters like Pointy, Varda and Lance is lovely. Cara's character development is incredible. This is not a book you want to miss!
Thank you to the author for giving me an e-copy in exchange for an honest review! 😊
I was not sure whether to continue reading the series after the first book but I can honestly say that I'm happy I did in the end. I found the first book slightly lacking even though I enjoyed the characters and the world, and even here the first third of the book was a bit slow but thankfully after that the twists started coming and the plot started rolling properly.
A trial of sparks and kindling avoided the biggest issue the first book had, which was over-explaining things. I felt like I could truly enjoy the story without being underestimated all the time, since the dialogue stopped spelling things out quite so clearly all the time, and I was truly surprised by a couple of twists even when they made perfect sense when thought about afterwards. Somehow the impression I got was that the first book was actually just something for the author to get out of the way before getting to the story they actually wanted to tell, and in this case I didn't mind that too much. I was happy to see more of the Dvarans and their customs, as well as proper character growth in several cases that had been somewhat missing in the first book. I was not a huge fan of Varda's plotline even though I do think it made sense and added up to the story, but that is probably just because I loved her arc in the first book.
Overall pleasantly surprised by this, especially since for the first half I was prepared to give it only three stars!
This was so good! I had no idea how things would unravel in the end, the book was unpredictable till the last pages but that was definitely very refreshing! I was doubting everything the characters told each other because this entire book was such a tangle of lies and deception. I am so excited to see how things will work out in the third book!