Full disclosure: I was guided to this particular title based on the recommendation of a good friend of mine in exchange for an honest review.
Writing a sequel to a book is never easy; it can make or break a series. The author has to create more situations for their characters in order to allow them to develop. At its best, a sequel can be just as good as the first because it understands the essence of the original story and adds on in meaningful ways. At its worst, a sequel can simply be a retread of the first novel without comprehending what made the story unique in the first place. In the case of The Four Sworn: Summer Solstice by Lenore Sagaskie – the second in the Four Sworn series, it is certainly one of the better sequels that I have ever read.
The Four Sworn: Summer Solstice reunites readers with Abby, Sara, Joe, and William as they investigate a series of disappearances of girls who are Potentials – young witches coming into their full powers who have not yet decided on which path to take. In the meantime, they continue to deal with their increasing elemental powers as their popularity in Feyland wanes, and information regarding Abby’s daughter emerges.
In this volume, readers are introduced to many new characters, including Rory and Marie. Rory aka Aurora is a Potential trying to decide on which path to take – the Light or the Darkness – while also trying to figure out what she wants to do post high school. I enjoyed the gag of animals following her everywhere vying for to become her familiar. She befriends Abby as they take pottery classes taught by Joe with some assistance from Sara. Marie is Rory’s grandmother and guardian. She is kind and protective of her granddaughter; Rory’s mother disappeared when Rory was very young. Both characters are well-developed, and I could easily imagine them as I read much like with the main characters in the first one.
As for the main characters, they evolve in more ways than one. Abby continues to struggle with her fire powers as well as caring for Dan after Thaddeus attacked him in the last book. Joe and Sara encounter uncertainty in their relationship, and neither is sure on how to talk to the other. As that occurs, Sara’s neighbor’s new boyfriend tries to hit on her, and it puts her in a paranoid state. As for William, he spends more time with Dan and even befriends Abby (Fire and Water getting along get it?). While it seems that all of the main characters get some chance at development, it is clear that the female characters have evolved more than the male ones. This is not a complaint; it is something that I have noticed. I am sure that Joe and William will have more of a chance in the next volume.
The strongest aspect of this volume is that there is more of a balance among the plot, characters, and environment as there is more story than in Spring Equinox. In the first book, I felt that the plot was pushed to the wayside for characters and the atmosphere. In this one however, there is a concrete plot, which got me intrigued from the beginning to the end. There are a lot of subplots like Rory trying to figure out what she wants to do, Sara with the neighbor’s boyfriend, and the news about Abby’s daughter, and most of them pay off.
Even the writing has improved from the first one. Throughout the first volume, various characters will express their thoughts about something as they perform some action. A lot of those thoughts that they have are predictable to the situation, which makes Sagaskie’s use of this technique verbose at times. She uses it in this book, but not as much and when it is necessary.
Overall, The Four Sworn: Summer Solstice by Lenore Sagaskie is a pretty good sequel. In fact, I enjoyed this one more so than Spring Equinox. This is more plot-heavy, but Sagaskie makes good use of it along with developing the main characters and introducing new interesting ones. Fans of the first one should enjoy this one. Summer Solstice has now gotten me excited for the third volume whenever that is coming out.
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