Title: The Tinker King
Author: Tiffany Trent
Series: The Unnaturalists #2
A year has passed since the destruction of the Refineries which turned Elementals into fuel for the city of New London. Some things have changed for the better, at least for the Elementals, but most of New London is finding it hard to adjust to the lack of their accustomed luxuries. Olivia is pushing hard for peace, but the Queen of the Shadowspiders is rising to claim the city for her own . . .
This improved somewhat on the first book, although not by much. Someone realized Vespa was a mess of a character in the first book, so her powers get a mysterious downgrade where they just stop working randomly to help add some tension (spoiler: I still didn’t care, although it’s worlds better than everyone pretty much worshiping her). And it is totally random. The only attempt the book makes to explain is as growing pains. Vespa’s having troubles with Bayne, too, who–shockingly–still isn’t responding to her interest in him. She thought he was over that whole forcing-him-to-marry-Lucy thing.
I still don’t like Vespa, but she was a lot more tolerable now that she’s no longer the center of the plot.
Syrus has grown up a lot in the past year. In the first book he sounded more like a child. Now he’s definitely more of a man. Interestingly, he doesn’t have any problems with being a werehound (though I wish it had played into the plot a tad more, as that was something I was hoping to see work out); he’s as comfortable in hound shape as man-shape, though the whole losing-clothes bit means he tries to hold himself back most of the time. This time around, Syrus takes the first-person point of view, with the alternate chapters in third person for Vespa. I found the shift in tone a bit jarring—I would’ve pegged him as 13 in the previous book, and somewhere around 17-18 in this one, but only a year has passed.
I was also disappointed by the choice of villains. It felt like bringing those people in again took away from some of the fresher ideas this book went after, and although I don’t mind so much what they did with the girl, I was not at all convinced by the reason why the spider was included. Sure, spare life where needed. But keep in mind that someone else sparing the spider is what led to everyone who died this time around—it’s kind of saying that Elemental life is sacred, but human life is disposable.
So all in all while this was in some ways better than the first book, in many ways it’s the same. I rate this book Neutral.