So last year, Jennifer L Armentrout returned to her world of the Luxen with her novel The Darkest Star which centred around the ever effervescent Luc and his new love interest Evie. This October she is back with the second in the Origins series of novels, The Burning Shadow, and I had the privilege of reading it early thanks to Tor Teen. Thankyou so much to everyone involved in getting this mammoth novel over multiple oceans and through various hurdles into my eagerly awaiting grabby hands. I fully expected to be getting an e-galley and the physical novel being express posted from USA for my reading pleasure has absolutely made my month <3.
Here is where I need to say, this review may contain spoilers because it IS a second in series after all. If you want an idea of whether its worth the read, you can check out my review for The Darkest Star here (please be kind, I was inexperienced and smol when I wrote this review.)
Warning you again that this may contain nods to certain plot points in The Darkest Star, look away now if you don’t want to know anything about it.
Ok so if you are still with me, you know that The Darkest Star ended with an epic plot twist of Evie and her past. Also, with Luc admitting to knowing her in another life and then being all kissy faces and loving hugs before cancer and *swoosh* brainwipe and installation into another family. Daedalus had been shut down and everyone was still reeling from the revelations of Evie’s past. Old favourites were coming together as well as new ones being introduced. There was love and hatred and a rather intricate scheme to keep everyone’s favourite nightclub owner from accidentally triggering Evie/Nadia memories.
The Burning Shadow follows on not long after all this happens and now Evie and her band of merry aliens are suddenly dragged back into the shady underworld when a series of flu related deaths turn out to be something else entirely. Luc is still pining over Evia (you see what I did there?) and basically his comfy little existence is about to come crashing down around him. Or crashing down more maybe? The government is once again trying to ban Luxen from associating with humans and Dee (the female wonder triplet) is doing her best to stop it from happening.
To be honest at first, I was a little dubious of TBS. It had a little bit of that clunky middle novel feel where it all feels a bit like its plateaued BUT Armentrout quickly picks up the pace when the perfect April jumps in and ruins everything by being, well, April and staging some protests against the Luxen. I mean if she can’t have superpowers them why should anyone else be allowed to have them right? From here everything moves quickly and quite suddenly nothing is as it seems. I wasn’t sure how I feel about where it seemed to go but, in the end, I really liked it.
So, as I said Evie and Luc are back and now that she knows about her past, nobody can stop them from doing what couples do. Luc becomes so ridiculously over protective of Evie that I actually felt super uncomfortable at times. I understand the whole soul mates thing but seriously, why you break that guys arm??? The romance once again takes a little of a back seat to the action, but it gets a little steamy in parts and I mean that’s what everyone wants from a good understated love affair. Evie also gets a little protective of Luc but its in more of a ‘don’t be a dick to my boyfriend’ way rather than a ‘I will actually commit murder if you act like a dick to my bf’ way, so its happiness all around.
Following on from the revelations in TDS, Evie gets her own major arc of discovery rather than being the eternal amnesiac and I have to say I squeed just a little that she has power! Like actual Terminator-style, destroy all the buildings (but not) type power that makes her less mewling helpless kitten and more throat ripping tiger. Of all the character arcs, I feel like this may have been my favourite barring maybe the villain who isn’t the Big Bad but is definitely Medium-sized Bad and ruining everything for everyone.
Which brings me to my favouritest characters in pretty much anything I read. The Villain!!!! So Armentrout brings a villain into the piece that I kind of saw coming but not with the ferocity of which they evolve. Not to give anything away but I now feel like key fobs are the most dangerous weapon any person could possibly get their hands on, and that’s only the first baddie of the piece. As TBS progresses, it is quite obvious that there is a hidden puppet master and I audibly gasped when I found out who it was (pro-tip this is not a novel you should look at the last page of. Much like Godsgrave, the final page will spoil the WHOLE DARN BOOK. But I digress). So, yes, the villains won me over again and as we all know, if you write me a good villain, I will voluntarily throw copious amounts of cash at you to buy all your future endeavours.
As usual, while the writing is not Pulitzer Prize worthy, it is complex enough to satisfy my mind and explain in detail all the comings and goings of the world of Luxen/Origins. Let it be known, she will be a chonky maiden with the finished copies coming in just under 500 pages and the ARC being an epic 649 pages long. She thick but every page is filling with relevant and enthralling content so never fear when this brick turns up on your doorstep!
If you are a tldr type person, here’s what you need to know. Evie and Luc are back and attempting to stop the takeover of the world. Old faves are back as well as introducing new character arcs. The villains are epic and never stop bringing the pain to Evie and her merry band of aliens. The romance is understated but just a little steamy and there is a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. She is thick but well worth every page.
Until next time lovelies xo