Inkspice by Kaitlin Bellamy (The Mapweaver Chronicles: Book 2)

Inkspice is the second book in Kaitlin Bellamy’s The Mapweaver Chronicles and the sequel to Windswept. If you enjoyed Windswept you’re likely to enjoy this one. It includes the same likeable characters, but ups the tension in the plot significantly. It keeps that coming-of-age feel while noticeably increasing the stakes.

One of the things I adored about Inkspice was the magic. In the first book in the series we were given a pretty barebones introduction to the magic. It was intriguing, but nothing was spelled out and we didn’t have a good idea of how the various ways of doing magic worked. In this sequel we’re treated to a great deal more information on the magic system. The overall workings remain mysterious, but we get to see more of the magic and it continues to be fun and intriguing both. Watching as Fox really comes into his own in terms of his powers is a real pleasure - and sticking him in a city that’s literally trying to hunt down magic users creates some truly tense moments in the story. The plot is also more tightly paced than in the first book. The plot moves along at a good clip and there isn’t much down time throughout the novel. I particularly appreciated how the stakes in this novel are much higher than in the first. Yet they aren’t higher in a way that feels contrived. Fox isn’t somehow the prophesied hero. Instead he’s a determined individual with power who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time - or the right place at the right time, I suppose, depending on your perspective. The characters, especially Fox and Neil, continue to be likeable, interesting, and well-written. There is also a fair bit of growth for Fox. Obviously, some of this comes as a result of him learning to use his magical powers to greater effect, but he’s also continuing to grow as an individual and learn more about who he is. I especially appreciated that aspect of the novel and felt Bellamy did a good job of bringing it out.

The book isn’t without flaws, however. Some of the weaknesses of the first book hold over, including some nebulous worldbuilding. I’m not sure of what the political system really is, and that starts to play a role in the plot in this book. There are also some small continuity errors, again, much like the first book. For me, the more disappointing flaw was in Lai’s plotline. While Fox and Neil are off traveling and getting into adventures (and misadventures), Lai is stuck back in Thiccan Valley. What’s more, somehow her plotline is reduced to a romance with a new character who isn’t particularly well introduced. It felt like Bellamy wanted to introduce a love triangle and that ended up being the entirety of Lai’s plotline. This is doubly disappointing because there was a good deal of potential for Lai’s story to be incredibly emotional and include a great deal of character development without ever needing to introduce a second love interest for her. To cap things off, the anticlimax in the story felt fairly long, the last several chapters being more setup for the next book than wrap up for this one.

In the end, I’m hopeful that the next book will return the focus to character development and feature a much more interesting plotline for Lai. This one is worth reading, and the main plot is an enjoyable YA coming-of-age tale.

7/10 An enjoyable YA coming-of-age tale

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