By Michelle Sagara
Publisher: Harlequin Luna; Original edition (August 27, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
The newest addition to the “Chronicles of Elantra” series by Michelle Sagara is Cast in Sorrow. Since the previous book, Cast in Peril, was a giant cliffhanger and left many fans frustrated, I was pleased to discover that the beginning of Cast in Sorrow was very “in the moment.” It did not waste several pages on review, but rather jumped right into the thick of things. If readers had previously grown weary of Elantra (although I am hard-pressed to see how), this latest installment will intrigue and entertain with its unexplored territory. The entire book was action-packed and only once did I grow impatient at a slightly prolonged description.
In Cast in Sorrow, Kaylin continues her journey to the West March, accompanied by a mixture of friends, allies, and enemies. They reach their destination fairly quickly, although of course their arrival is nothing like Kaylin expected. The West March introduces several new characters into the storyline—some of whom fall under the ally heading, and others definitely not—and lays a number of new and interesting difficulties at Kaylin’s feet. Through these events, we learn much about the diversity in culture between the West March and the High Halls in Elantra. These differences prompt Kaylin to further examine her part in the greater scheme of things, to consider the roles of others, and take on new perspectives. From the beginning of the series, readers have watched Kaylin grow into an adult; in the previous book one caught glimpses of her newfound—and hard-earned—maturity , but in Cast in Sorrow there is a sense that she has stepped fully into adulthood. Of course, being mortal, this brings its own set of problems, which adds additional interest to the storyline.
Readers will be further pleased that Cast in Sorrow is not only interesting, it also does a great job of explaining and wrapping up plot threads from previous books (finally!). As the Regalia does not occur until near the end of the book, there is plenty of time for Kaylin to stumble into more trouble—and in the process make new discoveries about the Lost Barrani children and their connections to such characters as Teela and Nightshade. She also gains insight into the Consort’s uniqueness, Severn’s history with the Barrani, and exactly what that flying lizard is all about.
Although the Regalia takes place near the end of the book, and could easily wrap up the story, the author throws her fans a bone with the last few pages. They read like an epilogue, and while very much a part of the previous story, lead so much into the next that one almost expects it to continue. In classic Sagara style, one short conversation brings so many intriguing possibilities forth that readers will be itching for the next book—and discussing this one until it comes out.
Overall, I thought Cast in Sorrow accomplished what it set out to do. There is a lot of explanation and enlightenment about certain events in Kaylin’s world, but the tone of this book matches its predecessors. While the reading may be gentle enough in outward action to suit for a YA crowd, there is no timidity in dealing with real and complex matters of an internal variety. Issues of trust, hope, loss, duty, compassion, and the line between good and evil are all worked seamlessly into the storyline to engage the reader on multiple levels. The self-reflection and evaluation bring a real-life quality to a series based in another world, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Review by Ashley Esther
(Co-administrator for Fans of Michelle Sagara West – fansofmsw.com.)
(21 August 2013)