Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s Legacy of Ghosts, the second entry in The Coraidic Sagas trilogy, is a thrilling addition to Lidan and Ran’s stories and elevates all the material that came before it. While Blood of Heirs set the table for what was to come, its sequel devours the meal and kicks the table over in style. In Legacy of Ghosts, Wanstall-Burke demonstrates her shrewd talent for plotting, fusing together threads of physical and emotional confrontations with the fine touch of a knife’s edge.
We open the story with a four-year time jump, a smart choice to catch up with the scheduled life events that Lidan follows, as well as the growth that Ranoth needs. Right away we see both characters, now 17 and 20 years old, as more confident and mature. Lidan and Ran are still under constant threat of having their lives upended at any moment and eventually such an event comes to pass. This sets off a chain of events that draws them closer together as their stories begin to intersect at a steady clip, while new threats continue to barrage them from strange new environments along with dire threats from within.
One of the book’s strongest suits is how well-developed and natural the relationships feel. There are several new friendships that have been built during the ‘off years’ in between books, and their familiar rapport is exemplified through their dialogue with ease. There’s also a burgeoning love story that earns its emotional payoffs every step of the way. On the other side of the rainbow, the familial mistrust, defiance, stubbornness, anger, loyalty, and confusion once again play crucial roles in the story. These turbulent and incisive scenes are often more damaging to our characters than any metal-clawed undead monstrosity could ever be.
There’s one particularly well-written action scene that involves a high-speed chase, kind of, and another set piece that includes an environmental obstacle with some frightening new threats. There’s a significant jump on the Excitement Meter in this entry and although it is 200 pages longer than Blood of Heirs, this book feels like it reads much faster. Once you reach the halfway point, it will be difficult to stop reading until you hit the end.
All the minor nitpicks I found in Blood of Heirs were squashed dead in Legacy of Ghosts. (Sorry, not sorry.) This sequel offers stronger relationships, heavier emotional fallouts, more powerful consequences, exciting action scenes, and perhaps most importantly, left me hankering for book three. That ending? Come on. You’re really going to drop that ending and just let us brood over it for the next two years?? Anyway. This book shows that Wanstell-Burke has worked out an intricately-plotted game plan that involves all aspects of the story from the very start of the series, and book three has some massive roles for Ran and Lidan still to play in the pages ahead.
Read this series, then go call your mom, because she can’t be any worse than Sellan.
ARC via author. On sale November 30, 2019. Preorder here.
Adam Weller, 8.5/10
I read Blood of Heirs last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so when I realized Legacy of Ghosts was releasing, I knew I needed to pick it up right away and give it a read. I was not disappointed. Legacy picks up the story several years after Blood of Heirs concluded. Once it does begin, however, it doesn't miss a beat. Wanstall-Burke quickly brings readers up to speed on what has happened in the intervening years and then we're treated to a quickly moving plot that races to a satisfying and yet oh-so-enticing conclusion.
I loved both Ran and Lidan's arcs in this book. Both were engaging, fun, and provided some excellent emotional beats. The early going in the two storylines was a tale of two stories for me, however. I immediately connected with Ran, enjoying the magical aspects of the story and his own growth in the years between Blood of Heirs and this story. I quickly had a sense of his growth and what he still struggled with, and the side characters who make up his team were a lot of fun. Lidan's story, on the other hand, was a bit more complicated for me. Her family is so dysfunctional it hurts, and I felt - in the first twenty percent of the story - that Lidan continued to lack agency. That was a complaint of mine in the first book as well. I will admit to being a little concerned at the beginning of this book. I shouldn't have been. Wanstall-Burke deftly weaves Lidan's tale together in a way where we see tremendous growth in her. By the time I was a quarter of the way in, I was completely sold and loving it. The way the author tells the story makes Lidan an incredibly compelling character and I loved her arc in this one. Wanstall-Burke also excels at dropping breadcrumbs in her story, little bits of foreshadowing that have significant payoff in the second half of the book. This was wonderful and gave coherence to the story that was tremendous. These elements combine to give us a back half that is amazing at moments and shocking at others. The payoffs are big. The themes that come together - like choice - are meaningful, and the character interactions are magnificent. The pacing also deserves praise in bringing this all together. It is incredibly even throughout. It builds steadily, changing back and forth between Lidan's and Ran's perspectives, always keeping you engaged. Then, it builds to a crescendo of a climax that leaves you longing for that third book.
My dislikes are truly more about personal preference than any deficiencies in the story itself. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed the magic in this book and loved how it had significant impact on the plot. But there were moments when I was left scratching my head a little about the rules of the magic or why something worked this way but not that way. I guess I would have liked to have seen a little more explanation of the mechanics of the magic to understand the way it was impacting the plot.
Legacy of Ghosts is an action-packed, perfectly paced tale that has wonderful and engaging emotional moments. It builds on the foundation left by the first book and sets things up for what should be a stunning and spectacular conclusion to the trilogy.
Calvin Park, 8.8/10
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