by Joelle Charbonneau
Young Adult Fantasy
Published June 2018
So much happens in this book. Actually, too much happens in this book. Eden Conquered falls victim to something a lot of fantasies fall victim to – too many events in too short of a time, with hand-waving to explain the timing. Princess Carys is supposedly “wandering the wilderness” after faking her death in the previous book, Dividing Eden. She’s also supposed to be recovering from the withdrawal effects of the drug she was taking to cover the pain of being semi-regularly beaten while at home. (I’m not even going to get into why she, a Princess, was regularly beaten…it’s weird.) And yet, beyond a few pages in the beginning, she doesn’t seem to have any issues with the withdrawal, and the “wilderness” is never more than two day’s horseback ride from anywhere she seems to need to get to. The “War” that we keep hearing about we never see in either book. The battlefield is…somewhere else. There’s no real sense of time or distance, when it really feels as if there SHOULD be.
That aside, it’s a pretty good sequel to Dividing Eden. I think it would have been more satisfying to have been a trilogy, with the second book about Carys wandering in exile and Andreus dealing with the treachery in his kingdom, and the third book about Carys coming back to Garden City and reuniting with her brother. Perhaps we could have delved more into what the Xhelozi monsters are, and why the city is based on “Virtues.” That’s another problem I had, actually – they say, more than once, that the Xhelozi are strong because the Virtue of the city is weak, but never explain that. We don’t really get into the mythology much. Had the duology been a trilogy, perhaps we could have explored their religion more as well. There’s so much interesting world-building dangled just out of sight! As is, with only 300 pages, a secret is barely dangled in front of us before it’s revealed, and tension doesn’t have a chance to build properly.
It’s a great story. It needed more space to be fleshed out.
From the cover of Eden Conquered:
The trials of Virtuous Succession have ended.
Prince Andreus is King – and Princess Carys is dead.
But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead, undermining him with their own rival agendas. And the winds of Eden are faltering, leaving both the city and Andreus’s authority vulnerable to attack.
Yet despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to overcome the lingering effects of the Tears of Midnight and to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of the Winds, face her twin, and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started.
The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Now brother and sister must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven.