Title: Curse of Arastold
Author: Jo Whittemore
Series: The Silverskin Legacy #2
Ainsley and Megan have had enough adventures in the world of Arylon, which they entered accidentally. But for Ainsley, those adventures have left an unfortunate residue: he’s caught the Illness that plagues certain magic-users, turning them into dragons. Although Megan is convinced the Illness can be cured, Ainsley isn’t so sure . . . or sure he even wants a cure.
I tried to find the first book, since I picked this one up on a sale rack, but I couldn’t find it, so eventually I just decided to read this one and hope I could figure out the story. After all, the first chapter didn’t seem too hard to follow.
That was a mistake.
This is a sequel that heavily relies on the first book, so I’m not going to talk too much about certain characters that I assume were set up previously and which I just didn’t get a chance to read about. I’ll try to focus on what’s here and what works or doesn’t work.
The basic story isn’t bad. Ainsley isn’t entirely convinced being a dragon is a curse (and he definitely doesn’t want to give up magic, whose use is accelerating his downfall). He does, however, want to protect his friend Megan from whatever he might unleash. Megan, for her part, refuses to lose her friend to a curse, even if their relationship is as much fighting as friendship. The story also never drags, as it springs from one event to the next pretty rapidly. The final battle, which closes out the fight that begins in the first chapter, is a great way to end. And Ainsley’s final request to Arastold made me happy, as that will doubtless play into what happens next.
But the book is so disjointed. Ainsley in the cave segments are the best part of the story because it’s grounded in where he is, what he’s feeling and doing and seeing, and what’s actually going on. Outside of that, the story feels like it does a little bit here, then a little bit over there, often without a lot of transition, or a good idea of what the stakes are. The two random people that show up right before the end are a perfect example. I’m assuming they had a role in the first book and ought to be familiar, but people? Here? Now? Who just spout some vaguely threatening nonsense and turn right around and leave? It does nothing for the story and the hints of trouble to come would’ve been better elsewhere, or just left out entirely.
And if Ainsley is the strong point of the story (mostly), Megan is the weak point. I spent a long time thinking the strange guy who joins them is using magic on her only to find that no, she’s just attracted to him and apparently losing most of her brain function as a result. And the “romance”, if you can even call it that, is so awkward it’s embarrassing to read. These two people, who met in the previous book but do not appear to know each other well at all, decide to make their first in-depth conversation all about . . . how many people the other person has slept with? Because apparently the most important thing to ascertain about a potential love interest is whether they’ve already done it with someone else and you’ll be second. Their whole relationship is such a mess. Unfortunately, given the talk about him having One True Bonded Relationship, it’s also pretty evident where this is likely to end up.
Overall, this had some good ideas, but the story executes poorly. If you are going to read it, make sure to read the first book first, as that will doubtless make the world, the characters, and their relationships a lot more understandable. I rate this book Not Recommended.