The Cursed Sea (2018) – Lauren DeStefano

Title: The Cursed Sea (The Glass Spare # 2)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Date published: 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
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In the sequel to 2017’s The Glass Spare which I absolutely loved, the novel starts almost exactly where the first book ended. After time spent on the mighty seas falling in love with the handsome Loom and struggling to find a cure for her curse Wil Heidle returns to the kingdom of Arrod to find that everything is pretty much in ruin. Her brother, the ill-tempered Baren has taken control of the kingdom and their father, the King, is dead.

You will of course remember that Wil had discovered she held a potentially deadly curse within her that caused her to turn anything living that she touched into stone (and by stone I mean emeralds and rubies and diamonds). This curse meant instant death for anyone in direct contact with the princess, except for Loom, a prince from the neighboring kingdom who still has no idea who Wil really is. Loom was also cursed and banished from his kingdom which seemed to give him some sort of immunity to Wil’s touch.

When Wil arrives at her childhood home, the palace she grew up in, she is briefly reunited with her mother and brother, Gerdie who are desperately trying to live under the wrath and rule of Baren. They have been joined by Wil’s deceased brother Owen’s widow Addney who is has a secret of her own that may just be the key to unlocking the entire family’s problems and doing away with them for good. In the meantime however Addney must be kept safe, and Wil needs to stay out of the way. She is also still wracked with immense guilt over the accidental death of Owen.

She embarks on a journey aboard a ship with Loom, his wife of convenience Zay and her son Ada, as well as Espel, Loom’s estranged sister and Espel’s bodyguard Masalee. Tensions aboard the ship are high and everyone must learn to make some sort of peace exist if they are to stay alive and save their respective kingdoms that are still very much at war.

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During her time on the ship, Wil not only becomes truly closer to Loom, she also begins to experience dreams in which the origin of her curse is revealed. In the dreams she is introduced to an aunt that she never knew existed, whose own curse indirectly brought about Wil’s.

Both Wil and Loom have an incredible amount of patriotism towards their kingdoms and even though they are loathe to it they have to set aside their love for one another to prevent these kingdoms from falling into complete ruin. As the battle between the Northern and Southern Isles continues it seems those on the ship sailing the Ancient Sea are struggling with these loyalties. At one point Loom even attempts to make a deal with the infamous marveler Pahn who is anything but trustworthy. His supposed deal with Pahn will not end well, however it will once again call into question the nature of Wil’s curse.

This novel is filled with constant tension, star-crossed love, guilt and an overwhelming sense of what it means to be a member of a monarchy. The characters are torn between their lovers, their siblings and their past and all in all this makes for a potentially riveting story line. However I do feel as though despite the author’s stunning prose and delightful characters she slightly fell short during the chapters spent on the open sea. Often times the love between Loom and Wil, and Espel and Masalee were unnecessary delays and distractions from the overarching and very important plot of uniting the two kingdoms.

In my opinion there were perhaps a little too many pages spent absorbed in the anxiety of forbidden love, whilst in the foreground the reality was that members of their respective kingdoms and families were dying and their cities were literally burning to the ground. That being said though the ending was fairly satisfactory and as I have mentioned before I am a huge fan of DeStefano’s writing style and the sense of magic she brings to all her novels.

My review of The Glass Spare:

The Glass Spare (2017) – Lauren DeStefano

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