(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Three months after her trip through the vortex, Marisa MacCallum is having second thoughts about her engagement to Darian Fiore as she struggles to adjust to royal life.
But when palace spies uncover a secret plot to assassinate the royal family and eradicate the Crimson Knights, Marisa and Darian must put their plans for the future on hold to stop Savino da Rocha and his legion of warrior giants from stealing the throne.
After narrowly escaping an attempt on her life, Marisa is left to defend Crocetta while Darian marches off to war. But when Savino strikes at the heart of the kingdom with supernatural powers of darkness, Marisa must wage an even greater battle against the spiritual forces bent on destroying her family and ending the Fiore dynasty forever.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
Normally, I try to avoid books that deal with heavy religious themes. They just aren’t for me as most of them come off as overly preachy and generally obnoxious. With that said, I did love The Carnelian Tyranny, which basically follows the story of the life and death of Jesus Christ in an alternate world. So what made this book different from so many religion-themed books I’ve read? Well, for one there’s not all that much preaching. Yes, there are scenes where the characters pray and debate their faith but it never comes across as Cheryl Koevoet herself saying to her readers “You must accept Christianity”. No, it was just a book where faith is presented as a normal part of many of the charcters’ lives and that was that.
And what really separates The Carnelian Tyranny from many other books I’ve read with similar themes is that while the religious aspect is part of the plot, it’s not necessarily the main focus at all times. No, Marisa’s doubts about her engagement and her role as the future ruler of Crocetta are front and centre. There’s also the whole Savino angle as our devious Count isn’t going to take Marisa’s perceived insult toward him lying down. So the religious plot and the political plot are intertwined in a way that feels quite natural, particularly in a society generally modeled on Medieval Europe. And of course there’s also Marisa and Darian’s relationship, which becomes strained because Darian doesn’t understand why Marisa is so reluctant to get married young and Marisa is having a hard time accepting her new high status even though she knows it’s her duty (and her birthright).
Marisa in this second book is a little more confident and just a little more sure of herself. She’s working hard to learn the language of her people as well as the customs and responsibilities being a ruler of Crocetta involves. Marisa has Darian to support her but their relationship obviously isn’t perfect. They argue and fight but you can always tell they love each other deeply. I can’t go into much detail without spoiling some amazing plot twists, but when they get separated it’s this love that keeps both of them going even when things seem completely hopeless. Best of all, Cheryl Koevoet doesn’t neglect her secondary characters as she lets us see things not only from Darian and Marisa’s points of view but also those of Marisa’s brother Marcus and a few other notable characters.
With a relatively unpredictable plot and some great character development, The Carnelian Tyranny is a solid second book. On top of that, there was also some great world-building as readers were introduced to the politics of the entire world of Carnelia because Crocetta is not as isolated as it may appear. There are outside forces constantly at work and not all of them are friendly toward Marisa as the new ruler. The only real quibble I have with The Carnelian Tyranny is that I felt everything was wrapped up too neatly in the end. There weren’t any outside threats other than Savino when the story was over despite the fact many countries/kingdoms would love to attack anyone near them when they’ve proven weak (as history has shown us time and time again). And one of the outside kingdoms that came to Crocetta’s aid didn’t actually play that big of a role in the war against Savino. I felt there was more to explore in the way of international politics.
However, if you loved The Carnelian Legacy, you’ll probably enjoy The Carnelian Tyranny as much as I did. I can’t wait for the third book.
I give this book 4/5 stars.