(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
The sequel to the chilling Winter People returns to the world of Faerie, and is a romantic and enchanting follow-up.
Salome left humankind behind to be with her boyfriend, Gareth, in the Kingdom of Summer. But now forces of darkness are rising. Her happily-ever-after is coming apart, and the Kingdom is on the brink of war.
Newly-single Kadie Byers is on her way home for Thanksgiving, imagining a visit filled with hot chocolate, a hot guy for a little rebound action, and some girl time with her bestie, Salome. Except she receives a message from Salome with two important words: PLEASE HURRY.
When Kadie rushes to help Salome, she’s ripped from the human world and pulled into the kingdoms of Faerie, where she’s shocked to learn that Salome’s monsters are real, and that she’s now at the mercy of one extremely vengeful Winter Queen…
Now both Salome and Kadie must find a way to survive the deadly chaos…or lose themselves to Winter’s deadly, icy grasp.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
While I had been initially skeptical about The Winter People, the first book in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end. So when I got the chance to read The Summer Marked, I had absolutely no hesitation in getting started. I couldn’t wait to find out the next chapter in Salome’s life after the supposedly completely happy fairytale ending of the first book. Of course, not all is well in paradise.
Salome and Gareth have moved in together but Nevin (the Summer king Salome kissed in order to free him from his curse) seems to be skulking around trying to break his promise that Salome and Gareth could be together. He seems increasingly controlling and also seems to be trying to separate the two, bringing them to court only to have Gareth sent away on mission after mission. While all this sounds so stereotypical, I can assure you that as always, Rebekah Purdy has some tricks up her sleeve, including a massive plot twist that totally blindsided me. It was a pleasant surprise and explained a lot in hindsight but I can’t talk much more about it without giving away massive spoilers. Needless to say, Salome and Gareth are finally together and everyone at court including Nevin want to tear them apart. And events throughout the novel definitely conspire to do just that.
Meanwhile, Salome’s friend Kadie is left wandering on her own. She got dumped and wants to live closer to home so she dropped out of university to come home for Thanksgiving and re-assess her life choices. When she gets there, of course Salome is gone and her mother and grandmother aren’t really being clear on where she is. So when she gets a text from Salome asking her to come right away, she gets sucked into a vicious trap set up by the Winter Court and has to endure unimaginable things in the land of Faerie. All while Salome lives an ideal life on the outside while she’s secretly barely holding things together.
While I didn’t like Kadie’s point of view at first because it sounded so much like the stereotypical ditzy best friend, she really came through as a character. At the Winter Court she learns to keep her mouth shut and scheme in order to survive and sometimes does the unthinkable to do so. She gains a real strength of character that is absolutely remarkable when you compare it to how she was in the beginning of The Winter People. That’s not to say she wasn’t a strong or three dimensional character then, but she really comes into her own and controls her own story (or thinks she does) a lot more than she used to. I really did like Kadie in this second book, despite some of the things she does.
Salome, having conquered a lot of her fears in the first book, learns that she has a long way to go if she’s going to survive alongside Gareth in Faerie now that the Winter Court is on a warpath. She learns to play the vicious games that are characteristic of faerie politics while adding in some human compassion that the fey seem to lack. And when faced with two horrible choices that would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the novel, her choice shows just how much she has really grown. Essentially, Salome really comes into her own in The Summer Marked so if you loved her in the first book, you will love her even more in this one.
I found the plot was a lot faster in this book compared to the first. There was of course plenty of character development and a lot of interpersonal/intrapersonal conflict but the plot moved along quite nicely. There’s quite a bit more action since the threat of the Winter Court is ramped up and the whole of Summer is at stake. And, as with the first book, Purdy throws in so many plot twists that you can’t help but read on to find out what happens next. The Summer Marked was definitely a one-sitting book for me because of that. Even if the plot wasn’t fast-paced, it would have still been a one-sitting book because Rebekah Purdy has a magnificent writing style. It’s beautifully descriptive and she does both the darker Winter Court and the gorgeous Summer Court incrdibly well. It was her writing that initially sucked me into the first book and it’s part of why I enjoy this series so much. While The Summer Marked was far darker than The Winter People, it was still very enjoyable on many different levels.
You really can’t go wrong with The Winter People series. If you haven’t read the first book, you absolutely should right now. If you read the first book and loved it, then you definitely need to read this second book. It will blow you away.
I give this book 5/5 stars.