I loved Kimberly Derting’s The Pledge with its amazing characters, intriguing plot, and careful dropping of secrets–not to mention the interesting concepts behind them. Not only did The Essence–the next novel in the trilogy–have all of these aspects in it, but kept me on the edge of my seat and dying to know what happens.

In The Essence, Charlaina has taken Sabara’s place on the throne, her family is safe, and all the cruel laws–including the division of language–have been abolished. Everything is perfect. Or is it? Sabara still exists inside Charlaina who is struggling with being queen, and there are those who are determined to bring things back to the way they were.

No matter what.

As in the first book, Kimberly is master of the art of secret dropping. The first is in the opening scene of the book where an unknown servant of an equally unknown queen is ordered to assassinate Charlaina. As the book progresses, this mystery grows. I was certain that the two individuals mentioned above were Niko–who has a connection to Sabara—and Queen Vespaire. But at the end of the novel two other people are suggested instead. So, who was who? The constant bouncing back and forth on the matter as I read was as exhilarating as it was tortuous.

Another area where Kimberly’s skill shines is in Sabara. The former queen is still alive inside of Charlaina and grows stronger as time progresses. But it is the gradual increase of this that I most admire. Sabara goes from occasionally whispered words to inflicted dreams to–on occasion–taking out right control of Charlaina’s body. It’s done with such finesse that it made me worry for Charlaina. Because if Sabara won’t go away then what does it mean for the new queen?

The Essessence is just as suspenseful and addictive as its predecessor, managing to end on an incredible cliffhanger. With Sabara growing stronger, shadowy characters running amuck, and war looming, I can’t wait to get ahold of The Offering and learn how this all pans out.

How will it end? And what will happen to Charlaina?

Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to it.

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