April 1, 2014

Latest Read: Steadfast by Claudia Gray

Here are the basics ...
Steadfast (Spellcaster #2) by Claudia Gray
Publication date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Paranormal
Source: Received book in exchange for honest review (Thanks!)
Summary: Nadia, Mateo, and Verlaine have saved Captive's Sound from the dark Sorceress Elizabeth...or so they thought. Despite their best efforts, a crack opened and a new, greater evil seeped through. With Mateo as her Steadfast, Nadia's magic is magnified and she is more powerful than ever. But there is still so much she doesn't know about the craft, leaving her open and vulnerable to a darker magic...which has begun to call Nadia's name. (Adapted goodreads.com)


The good
Steadfast picks up right where its predecessor Spellcaster left off. It's still the night of the carnival and it seems like Nadia, her Steadfast Mateo and their friend Verlaine have defeated the sorceress Elizabeth, who's sworn to the One Beneath (in case it wasn't obvious: this is the big bad!). Imagine their surprise though when not even a day later, Elizabeth is still alive, already confronted them and onto a bigger plan. A plan that the three of them are determined to uncover and defeat.

Nadia, Mateo and Verlaine continue to be the three central characters (with a tad more focus on Nadia) and they each continue to fight personal demons in addition to greater fight at hand. Nadia struggles with not having a teacher, who should be her mother, to guide her through magic. She's half-trained and lacks control which makes her weaker opponent against Elizabeth despite her best efforts. The question for Nadia is - how far is she willing to go to get the power she needs and to save others? On the other hand, Mateo struggles with being a cursed Steadfast. He can amplify the powers of any witch (but primarily Nadia's) and is even more plagued by the curse Elizabeth has put on his family. His visions are getting out of control and he's worried about Nadia. Then lastly, Verlaine also struggles with the curse Elizabeth put on her. She struggles with not being seen, being less loved. The way magic affects each of their lives was interesting and I have to admit, I think Verlaine's struggle is the most heartbreaking and sympathetic to watch unfold.

A new character introduced towards the end of the previous book, Asa, plays a big role in Steadfast. Another thing to admit - I found him more interesting than Nadia and Mateo. He's a complex character, a demon and bound to do Elizabeth's bidding, which includes placing seeds of doubt in Nadia, Mateo and Verlaine's minds. Let's just say that one of his interactions with these characters was particularly intriguing and a highlight of the book for me.

(Some) reservations:
We get a lot of different points-of-views in the book - Nadia, Mateo, Verlaine, Asa, Elizabeth and a couple other secondary characters. They're not called out explicitly by having them separated into different chapters though. Sometimes they're not separated by anything at all, in fact. The POV would just switch and I found the transitions a bit jarring at times. I eventually got used to it but I think this could've been smoother.

Do I recommend?
I'm still not entirely sure that witch books are for me but I appreciate how it's incorporated here. There are a lot of details and lore that I found interesting and I think if you're into this paranormal genre, you'll enjoy it.

Happy reading!

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