The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey
Atom, 2016. ISBN 9780349002156
(Age: Teens) A rich and indulgent fantasy, Grey presents a world coloured by fear, despair, and highlighted by the ray of hope that is the Firebird. While this is a great fantasy concept, it seems oddly disjointed, tripping up the reader and making it more difficult to read.
Echo is back in this sequel to The girl at midnight, this time holed up in a warehouse with the former Dragon Prince, his sworn sword, a duplicitous Avicen, and her best friend, Ivy. The group have nowhere to go, all having thrown their support with Echo, the murderous firebird who killed an Avicen warhawk in order to protect a Drakharin - the ultimate betrayal to the tenuous trust Altair, the Avicen general, holds for her.
The stakes grow when another mythical beast, the Kucedra, the Firebird's enemy, appears, reaping havoc not just on Grand Central Station, but on the otherwise impenetrable Avicen nest. The unsuspecting Avicen were decimated, the few survivors evacuating to an enchanted island prepared to safeguard them if ever the nest were threatened. With despair reigning the Avicen are prepared to welcome Echo back and embrace her as their saviour - but at what cost? Will she remain herself or will she become a simple weapon?
Like the first, for me, this was a disappointment - made greater by the introduction of a love triangle between Echo's Drakharin and Avicen suitors. It seems that even despite all that is going on, lust and love are the primary concern of the characters, rather than the more pressing threat of a shadow monster. To her credit, in this novel Echo is less concerned with boys and more with the monster - however the issue of the love triangle appears to be presented as the most pressing issue. Again, I would only, hesitantly, recommend this to boy-crazy, fantasy-loving, teenage girls.
Kayla Gaskell, university student, aged 20