Title: Crystal Storm
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #5
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.
In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.
Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.
The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.
This book is a party and we have the dead, the dying, the possessed, and the resurrected, in attendance. This is, by far, the best book in the Falling Kingdoms series. It was sweet and exciting, at the same time, dangerous and ruthless. It still uses greed, vengeance, blood magic, and deception, as key ingredients just like the previous installments, but Crystal Storm captured and held my attention far longer than the other books in this series did. It’s a short book—less pages but more thrill and action, more evil beings ready to cause destruction, and there was no shortage in deaths if that’s what you’re here for.
To be honest, the writing style wasn’t very impressive, but Morgan Rhodes sure knows how to keep her readers reading. She knows how to make you want the next book. Badly. Aside from the endings, the Prologue is my favorite part of every book in this series. Either we met new characters worthy of our time and attention in there, or we see flashbacks of our villains so we get to understand where all the greed and thirst for power came from. In this particular release, the writing is noticeably better compared to the previous books. Even the world-building has improved a little in this. It’s like there’s a new weight to the writing that promises some bad stuff is coming and it’s going to be good. And skies above! Morgan Rhodes sure knows how to deliver such promises. Even now—weeks after finishing this book—I’m still not okay with that ending. It was wicked!
As usual in this series, the book is told in multiple POVs. Our characters are scattered all across Mytica and its neighboring empire, Kraeshia. Although I never really felt that they’re that far away from each other. Mytica was rather small. This series’ entire world was rather small. All of the characters seem to have only grown a little, which I think is a result of having this many POVs in a short book. But plotwise, this book has taken huge interesting steps forward.
“Love is pain. Love is death. And love strips one of their power.”
Seventy percent of the reason why I’m still into this is the Magneo ship. Even after they profess their love, Magnus and Cleo are still working in trusting each other. I like that love did not erase every bad memory and fix every problem between them instantly. They both still have to work on gaining the other’s trust even after what transpired in the fourth book. Thankfully, they didn’t turn into a cheesy couple like every other pair in this entire series. There are still forces that challenges their relationship, and people who wants to tear them apart. There are old curses that prevents them from getting closer to each other intimately. And I just loved all the twists and complications.
“The fire that hollows us out is what allows us to be filled with strength and power where before there was none.”
Jonas is still being Jonas in this book—roaming across Mytica looking for trouble and saving the day—but he comes with a slight improvement this time. He now possesses things that no mortal man had ever carried before, so he might actually be useful in the next and final release. But what really made me like Jonas in this book is his unselfishness and his willingness to compromise to save Mytica. He did not let his pain, his hatred, and personal grudges cloud his judgement. He set aside his plans of vengeance to form an alliance with an enemy that he’d been wanting to kill for so long. Now, that’s something that Lucia could learn from him. Not that I cared a bit about her character. I can do without Lucia’s POV.
“I think we all deserve to die for something we’ve done. Or for something we’ve failed to do.”
Just like Lucia’s, Amara’s POV is the weakest part of this book. There were moments from the previous installments where I admire her for her bluntness, her badassery, and her solid determination to get the power and the respect that she deserves. But here she was reduced to a mere trouble maker. She always talks of how she’s going to be a good leader, how she’s going to make every Kraeshian man respect and value the women, how she’s going punish those who wouldn’t. But we never really see her do or start to do any of those in this particular installment. Instead she sits in a throne blinded by power just like every other leader before her.
Also, can we just let King Gaius die now? The only time I’m glad he was still alive is the time when he broke some evil neck in the right moment and at the right time. He is kind of having a change of heart in this book although there are still many traces of evil in his actions. But I really don’t think that the change-of-heart thing fits him well. He is a villain who is hated by many including his own son. So, I would prefer to see him die as a villain.
“True leaders often must be ruthless enough to steal and murder. If they don’t, someone else will.”
Crystal Storm has the right blend of action, romance, magic, and surprising revelations. It is an incredible read and highly enjoyable. And it has the kind of ending that would stick with you for days—not for a very long time though. Maybe it would’ve been harder to forget if this series didn’t take this long to be this good. I can only hope that the thrill wouldn’t die out in the next book.