A Forest of Wolves (Uprising #2) by Chelsea Luna

This is the second book following the clash of Catholics and Protestants in 16th-century Prague. The first book, Lions in the Garden, was previously reviewed here.

A Forest of Wolves Front Cover

A Forest of Wolves Front Cover (Lyrical Press)

SPOILER WARNING: There will be some spoilers for the first book in the series.

THE PLOT: Mila Novakova is on the run from her father, Vaclav, Chancellor of Bohemia, and her maybe-kinda husband, Radek, Duke of Prucha. Since the marriage was forced and hasn’t been consummated, Mila’s true love, Marc Sykora, insists that the marriage hasn’t actually taken place. The Inquisition is getting into full swing, and Marc is the leader of the Protestant rebellion.

In the meantime, Mila isn’t exactly fitting into life with the peasants. Marc’s uncle has a hatred of Catholic nobles, and Marc’s childhood friend wants Mila out of the way so she can have Marc for herself. And when Marc is away recruiting for the cause, his brother Henrik is Mila’s best friend and support…but does he really want more?

Mila finds confirmation of a truth about her past, but she’s not sure how to use this information for good. No matter what she chooses, her own life is in danger and the people she loves face torture and death.

MY TWO CENTS: I was eager to continue this series; it’s a period I’m familiar with, but not the location. I’m really not as well-educated on the Holy Roman Empire as I should be. This series can definitely interest a reader into researching an unfamiliar period of history.

Mila is an engaging heroine, and as a reader, I want to see her succeed. I’m interested in the story. I know there are anachronisms, but they don’t bother me much when it streamlines the material for younger readers. And it’s definitely an engrossing story. You root for the good guys and hiss at the bad guys.

What a really don’t want to see is another love triangle. In the first book, there was a bit of a triangle with Radek and Marc, but in this book, since you already know that Radek is a villain, the triangle starts to form with Marc and his brother. Henrik’s interest in Mila doesn’t have to go beyond friendship, so I hope it stops right where it is, right now.

I read this book under the impression that it was the end of the series, but as I got very close to the end with unresolved plot threads, I realized it wasn’t meant to be the last book of the series. I do seriously hope the story continues. Should you read it without reading Lions in the Garden first? Eh…really, no. You should start there. While most of the backstory is explained, you don’t really get the level of emotional weight you should by starting with this one.

COVER NOTES: The first book showed Mila’s face, while this one only shows her from behind…in an absolutely stunning gown that would have been more appropriate for the first book than this one. When I flipped through my e-books, though, I saw that this cover was similar in concept to several other YAs on my Kindle…girl shown from behind in gorgeous ball gown. The colors in this are quite striking, and I’m sure it will appeal to the target audience.

BOTTOM LINE: Uses interesting characters to explore a period of history that is unfamiliar to me, and makes me want to know more. I hope the story continues, and especially that the villains get what’s coming to them.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available September 13, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: While the author has stated on social media that she’s working on book 3, she can’t confirm when it will be published.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lions in the Garden (Uprising #1) by Chelsea Luna

Set in 1610, Lions in the Garden takes place just shortly after the end of Elizabeth I’s reign. However, where most of my historical fiction choices are set in England, this YA story takes place in Prague at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.

Lions in the Garden Front Cover (Lyrical Press)

Lions in the Garden Front Cover (Lyrical Press)

THE PLOT: Having been threatened with marriage to an old man, 17-year-old Lady Ludmila Novakova is attempting to run away from the Bohemian court when she is accosted in the forest. Luckily she is saved by Marc Sykora, a young blacksmith, who returns her to the castle. Mila is smitten with her rescuer and invents reasons to see him, even after her elderly suitor is replaced as potential husband with her oldest, dearest friend…a powerful duke.

Mila has been brought up in the very sheltered court, so she has no idea how the peasants in the village live. Her understanding of the Protestant Reformation is “Catholics are good, Protestants are bad.” Her interaction with Marc and a shocking turn of events begin to open her eyes to true good and evil…out in the world AND disturbingly close to home inside the royal court.

MY TWO CENTS: Mila is extremely naïve, but not stupid. She makes some dumb choices, but they are based on what her privileged life has taught her to be true. Learning to question what she’s always been told is her first step to a wider world. The reader is definitely rooting for her by the end of the book.

Mila’s friends and family are a little harder to read. Marc seems to be a sympathetic character, but does he have ulterior motives? Is Mila’s childhood friend Radek a good guy, a bad guy, or something in between? Who is really running the court? And what drove Mila’s mother to commit suicide when Mila was a child?

I loved the setting. I’m so used to reading historical fiction set in Renaissance England that I’m somewhat ignorant of what was going on outside of England, Spain, and France. I really need to read some nonfiction about the Holy Roman Empire, and this book could be a similar gateway to that history for young adult readers.

BOTTOM LINE: An interesting read, relatively unfamiliar (to me) setting, an evolving heroine, and a story that’s not completely predictable. I’m looking forward to the release of its sequel, A Forest of Wolves, in September.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available March 1, 2016, in paperback and e-formats.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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