Read my reviews of the previous books in the Seasons of the Lukoi series:
I know that I say this in each review, but this series keeps getting better with every installment. In this book, we leave Lukos and venture to yet another new country in this expansive world. The story opens as two secondary characters from earlier in the series are about to embark on an adventure of their own, as two of the first Lukoi to leave their island in generations. Foxglove seamlessly weaves the reasons for their departure, and the necessary accompanying backstory, into the earlier scenes. So, by the time the real meat of the book begins, we are already thoroughly invested in the characters of Elena and Aleks, their history, and their journey.
This method of storytelling also helps Foxglove introduce these two heroes effectively, especially in how Aleks is presented as a transgender man. The language and description used are firmly rooted in the world created. His identity comes off as an ordinary facet of Aleks’ life (as it should be, really) compared to his experience as someone who sees the dead and helps them move on to the next life.
The dead are both a significant plot element and thematic issue in this book, which could have made for heavy reading. Aleks’ joyful and irreverent personality acts as the perfect foil to these elements, as well as to Elena and Evander, the other two members of the amazing relationship arc that develops throughout this story. Evander and his position in life are not what Elena expected when she set out to find the boy she encountered as a child, but where the authors could have taken the easier route of fate-mandated insta-love, we’re instead treated to the delicious push and pull of the only way two extremely dominant personalities might consider flirting. (Swords are involved. I have no complaints.)
In much the same way Foxglove continues to expand this world with every book, they also show that they are far from locked into this world’s domination/submission fantasy element. Not only is there no reason that two dominant characters cannot have a (mostly) effective relationship, the way Elena and Evander come together is as explosive as it is sexy. However, it is still not without its problems, and Aleks becomes much more than a way for them to appease their natures. He is truly the glue that holds them together along with the eventual lynchpin to solving the main external threat to the country of Arktos and their very lives. One of the highest praises I can sing about this book (and this series as a whole) is how the relationship developed by the characters stands on equal footing to the external conflicts they face. One is not there merely to balance the other but also as an integral part of what makes these books compelling.
As usual, this story is also populated by secondary characters who truly bring this world alive. As much as I look forward to returning to Lukos in the next book, I’m pleased that I’m two for two in predicting future heroes when I flail at Foxglove on Twitter. So much of this world and its possibilities remain to be explored, and I know I’ll definitely be along for the ride.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic review copy of this novel from the authors.