Jenna Burtenshaw continues her dark fantasy trilogy The Secrets of Wintercraft with YA dystopian novel Blackwatch.
In Wintercraft, fifteen-year-old Kate Winters learned she was one of the Skilled, a rare person who can bring the dead to life. Even among that rare group, Kate is special. She alone can understand the secrets of an ancient book of knowledge.
In the sequel, Blackwatch, Kate is on the run from the Skilled, who have accused her of murder. And she is being hunted by an elite unit of assassins fighting in the war against Albion, Kate’s home.
When a potent magic threatens the veil between life and death, fate reunites Kate with enigmatic villain Silas Dane, a man who cannot be killed. Only they can save Albion.
Unlike the first book, BLACKWATCH is a little bit slower in pace. There are two stories going on: Silas running away and Kate and Edgar’s issues with the Skilled. Both are interesting, but for some reason I found this book harder to get into than the first. The first one was just conflict on top of conflict with an epic climax. This one, doesn’t truly get good until the climax.
I love the fact the way Burtenshaw had written about Kate. Kate’s still the strong young girl we met in WINTERCRAFT, but this time the veil is taking its toll on her. Kate is now the confused and tired person that you would think she would be after the events of the first book. Sadly, she wasn’t allowed to properly rest.
We meet new characters in BLACKWATCH. The manipulative mysterious Dalliah Gray, more of the Skilled, and the honorable yet screwed up Bandermain of the Blackwatch. Honestly, I loved Burtenshaw’s “villains”. They were fleshed out and had history with other characters that was hinted and would be wonderful to continue speculating.
Burtenshaw doesn’t skimp out in the world of Albion either. In BLACKWATCH we see more of the underbelly that is Fume and it is crazy. It was like seeing the Dwarf kingdoms from J. R. R. Tolkien. I did find it confusing and maze like sometimes, but I decided to pay more attention to the characterization than the world itself.
All in all, it was a good second book, but didn’t have the umpf that WINTERCRAFT had. BLACKWATCH is more like a plateau. Mind you, that doesn’t mean it didn’t have action. Edgar was his lovable bumbly yet lucky self. Silas still kicks hardcore ass (LOVE HIM!). If anything, WINTERCRAFT was a shove it in your face fantasy with introducing the main cast. BLACKWATCH is the introducing the real conflict. It had to be slower if only because Burtenshaw is setting her readers up for something more crazy in WINTERVEIL. Which, I happen to have right next to me.