Me and A Restless Truth by Freya Marske did not get along. After an enchanting frolic through book one in the series, my expectations were high, and they came crashing down quickly. Our original characters, Robin and Edwin, set the standard, and I found that this adventure could not live up to the first magical foray into their world.
Maud Blyth has been sent to America to bring a piece of the Last Contract safely back to her brother, Robin, in Britain. Unfortunately for Maud, that involves traveling with an eccentric, elderly woman across the sea under an assumed name. However, Maud’s attempts to evade notice fail, and the portion of the Last Contract goes missing on the ship. Maud is desperate to locate the piece, but without any magic of her own, she will need to recruit allies on board to aid in her mission before the future of magical society falls into the wrong hands.
The first thing that stood out to me in book two was the choice of POV. Admittedly, I thought that Robin’s sister, Maud Blyth, was an odd choice especially since her role in book one was incredibly limited. The most obvious choice for book two’s POV was Adelaide Morrissey, the plucky assistant who plays an important role at the end of Robin and Edwin’s adventure. Marske also highlighted Adelaide’s unique predicament as a brilliant woman of color in British magical society who was relegated to the side, so I looked forward to seeing her shake that stuffy situation up. Instead, we follow Robin’s high-society sister who feels disconnected from the larger story. The reason for Maud going on this adventure was shaky, and I never bought into her role in this particular adventure.
The characters and romance in this book fell short of its predecessor. Edwin and Robin were carefully crafted, and each character was developed thoughtfully and revealed parts of themselves that played into the burgeoning relationship in meaningful ways. In comparison, Maud’s relationship that develops on board the ship feels forced and shallow. This is really unfortunate because Maud is trying to discover who she is and it would have been beautiful to witness her transformation more deeply. The relationship itself also suffers because Maud and her love interest are incredibly flat. There is nothing interesting about them, and the deeper parts that Marske hints at are never explored. I found their interactions frustrating and it was made even worse due to the confines of the ship.
Without a strong plot or characters, the setting sank everything further into the ocean. I lament that the entirety of this story took place on a ship. The story got stale very quickly, following a neat little formula. Days on the boat were relegated to finding answers to the mystery at hand, and the nights were reserved for planning meetings and sex. I was also bothered that Maud could create so much chaos but run back to her cabin and be “safe” as if she was untouchable in her room. There was no sense of urgency or danger because somehow an ordinary room was always there to stop the big bads and protect its characters, which is odd especially after the story starts with a murder in a private cabin. It all seemed very silly, and I look back on my adventure in A Marvellous Light even more fondly in comparison.
Everything in A Restless Truth dampened my mood. I was put off by the POV choice, the lackluster romance, and to top it all off I was stuck on a boat. This book was major filler, and I am desperate for Robin and Edwin to make their triumphant return in book three.
Rating: A Restless Truth – 5.0/10
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.