Review of Riven – Book 2 of the Bound trilogy by Sarah Bryant

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With my usual lack of planning, I plucked this offering off the shelves, beguiled by the cool cover and it wasn’t until I got it home, I realised that it was the sequel to Bound, which I haven’t read…

Devastated by the death of her boyfriend, Lucas, Sophie moves in with her mother in Edinburgh, hoping to grieve quietly. But since rivenmeeting Lucas, nothing about Sophie’s life has been quiet, and his death doesn’t change this. If anything, life has become more complicated and confusing than ever. Her mother is determined that she get over him. A strange, compelling man seems to be stalking her. And she’s begun to have visions she doesn’t dare believe. Because, if she does, it means that Lucas isn’t dead at all. Instead, he’s entangled in a fate worse than death. And only she can save him.

Congratulations to Snow Books for a really good blurb – it gives a taste of what the book is about without including any major spoilers, which these days is a rarity… So given the atmospheric cover and intriguing blurb, did the contents of this YA adventure encompassing loving angels and otherworldly nasties live up to the promising first impression? In a word – yes.

Bryant is clearly an experienced story-spinner at the top of her game and her deft handling of this sequel is clear proof. Starting a book with a grieving protagonist is a lot trickier than Bryant makes it look – particularly if you have a reader like me who hasn’t read the first book, so isn’t remotely invested in the heroine’s narrative arc. Misery is actually fairly boring – which is why soaps linger on the meaty drama leading up to a terrible event, dwell on the Awful Bit and then gloss/skip the subsequent grieving. Bryant manages to give us a real feel for Sophie’s emotional pain, while keeping the pace going and pulling us into her world.

And an interesting mishmash her world is… There is a lot of blending of mythological characters taken from a variety of sources – the Morrigan, for instance, which are flung into the rich mix of Bryant’s particular version of How It All Began and how our heroine fits into the overall picture. Needless to say, she isn’t a bit player. While initially more than a tad sceptical about this world, by the middle of the story I was completely prepared to suspend any disbelief and just keep turning the pages. In addition to an appealing main protagonist, Bryant also produces an interesting cast, so that when the climax kicks off, Sophie has alongside a team that are more or less allies. I enjoyed the fact that these include a couple of major characters whose motives don’t line up with Sophie’s – but are less of a threat than the main villain.

I really enjoyed the final showdown – and the fact that Bryant played with our expectations of the climax, then threw in yet another curved ball, which sets up the next book in the series to be yet another huge deal… Needless to say, I will be waiting for this final book with anticipation – as well as tracking down some more of Bryant’s books. If she writes for adults with half the skill and flair she demonstrates in her YA offering, then I want to read more of her work.
8/10

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