Reviews

THE QUICKSILVER COURT (Rooks & Ruin #2), by Melissa Caruso

I received this novel from Orbit Books, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review: my thanks to both of them for this opportunity.

With her Swords and Fire trilogy, Melissa Caruso quickly became one of my read-sight-unseen authors, and the start of her new Rooks and Ruins saga, The Obsidian Tower, happily propelled me into a new adventure set in the same world.  In that first book I enjoyed discovering her new central character, Ryx, whose “broken” magic kept her from any kind of human contact because her touch drains any kind of living energy: at the end of The Obsidian Tower, Ryx had been accepted in the found family of the Rookery, a group of secret agents of sorts, dedicated to fighting unruly magic use, but had also unwittingly allowed the escape of some demons so far locked up in the prison guarded by Ryx’s ancestral home of Gloaminguard.

As The Quicksilver Court starts, the already tense situation caused by the demonic escape heightened the political turmoil between the long-time opponents of Raverra and Vaskandar, and the Rookery is tasked with the mission of finding a terribly powerful artifact that could be hidden in a realm where politics are a quite slippery affair and every move could lead to disaster. As Ryx and her friends try to deal with the delicate situation, they are made aware that the escaped demons are further complicating the already knotty circumstances and that the Summer Palace in the realm of Loreice might prove a deadly trap. I don’t want to share more of the story because The Quicksilver Court offers such an almost unending stream of surprises, revelations and twists that to anticipate even the smallest of them would be very unfair to potential readers.

Plot-wise, the backbone of this story feels like one of those escape games where the players must find their way out in a constantly changing maze where unexpected dangers lurk, and no one can anticipate what awaits around the next (usually dark) corner: the overall effect is quite sinister, conferring to the novel a suffocating sense of impending doom that’s made even more ominous by the contrast with the chiseled beauty of the setting and the elegance of the denizens of Loreice’s Summer Palace, a place where fashion is used as a political statement.   Faced with a set of equally impossible choices, the Rookery needs to deal with terribly high stakes that end up transcending the “merely” political and move over the treacherous and apparently invincible terrain of demonic power.

Indeed, Ryx and the Rookery are put to the test in the most harrowing ways imaginable, which brings the revelation of many long-held secrets that might fracture their bond, and as far as Ryx herself is concerned those revelations bring forth a discovery that affects both her past and her future: to say that I was completely floored by this epiphany would be a huge understatement and at the same time I’m eager to see how this will affect her involvement in the Rookery for the next book.

The trials our protagonists are put through offer however a powerful way of expanding their characters and showing us more of their personalities and their past: there are some heartbreaking moments in which I felt for them deeply, because so far Melissa Caruso had presented them in a light-hearted fashion, even when they were facing difficult circumstances and almost-impossible tasks – the affectionate banter between them was one of the delights of the story, and seeing them so exposed and deeply wounded was difficult and painful to bear.  And yet, nothing brings characters into sharper relief than pushing them to the limits of their endurance, and seeing what they are truly made of: all of the Rookery members came through with flying colors, their inner dynamics certainly changed but in an interesting way that promises intriguing developments for the future.

As for Ryx, if I felt great empathy for her in the previous book, here she had my total admiration because she showed once and for all that despite the cruel drawbacks life heaped on her she has grown into a strong, determined individual who is unwilling to sacrifice her personal integrity, no matter the cost. For someone who was forced to live a sheltered life, she keeps showing a degree of flexibility and strength in the face of adversity that promise to turn her into a formidable person whose unbreakable core of humanity can temper any negative influence she might suffer.

Once again Melissa Caruso confutes the notion that the middle book of a trilogy is usually the flimsy one: with The Quicksilver Court she considerably raised the stakes in a narrative background that was already delightfully complicated, all the while adding intriguing facets to her characters and their internal relationships. My expectations for the final installment in the Rooks and Ruins trilogy (and for her future production) are quite high and I know they will not be disappointed.

All I have to do is just wait…

My Rating:

22 thoughts on “THE QUICKSILVER COURT (Rooks & Ruin #2), by Melissa Caruso

  1. I must start this series! With so many authors out there to try, it’s impossible to get to every one, but it sounds like Melissa Caruso is worth shooting for. Lovely review!😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I know – and sympathize – about the difficulty of getting to read all the books we would like, so I hope you will manage to start Caruso’s series one of these days: I’m certain you will love her stories and characters 🙂

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  2. Fantastic review, Maddalena! And I completely concur with everything you’ve said. I LOVED this book and am delighted that you feel the same way. Ryx is on such a journey – and I’ve absolutely loved this world, while being DEEPLY grateful that I don’t live in it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my! If Raverra looked dangerous enough, what with all the political intrigue and enemies closing on their borders, Vaskandar looks positively *deadly* no matter where one turns! But from the safety of one’s armchair it’s a wonderful world to explore… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I honestly can’t believe book 2 of this series is out already. What even is time and where does it go? I still need to finish the third Swords and Fire book! I really liked the first two, even if I’d have liked the politics and intrigue to have been upped a notch or two, I was still hooked. I remember literally sitting on the edge of my seat as I finished the last few chapters of The Defiant Heir haha. Anyway, this review reminds me I would like to finish that series and start on this one too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This new trilogy is as interesting as the first one, with the added value of being set in the Vaskandar area, so that we can lear more about the world that acts as a background for Caruso’s stories. The characters are equally interesting and as far as “edge of the seat reading” is concerned, you will not be disappointed by that, either 🙂
      Happy (continued) reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Vaskandar is so cool, I’ve really enjoyed the magocracy element of the Swords and Fire books from what I’ve seen of the witch lords so far in those books. I reread The Tethered Mage a little while ago with a view to finishing the series; time to reread and review The Defiant Heir soon so I can read The Unbound Empire and then finally make a start on this series!

        Liked by 1 person

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