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Brea Nicole Bond
on March 01, 2013 :
Some time ago, I reviewed Gaia's Secret--the first in this series. I liked it (as in REALLY liked it), but I also posed the question of whether Kloss would be able to maintain the momentum of her first novel in its sequel. Too often, sequels in a series fall flat, and I wondered whether Daria's adventures would stale once her initial journey into Gaia ended. Happily, this is not the case. The Keeper's Flame is a wonderful read (arguably, better than the first book) that delves more deeply into Daria's character as well as the political tensions that will set in motion the conflicts of subsequent novel(s?) in this series.
Daria is once again a delightful and believable heroine, and she makes a perfectly imperfect princess. She is decidedly feminine without succumbing to the wishy-washy lovestruck caricature, and she possesses strength and intellect without overcompensating as a bad-ass bully. And, despite a few choice steamy scenes, her role in this novel is not defined by her relationships. She battles insecurities and feelings of futility, sibling and family rivalries, and personal outrage over social injustice in a manner that is refreshing and rare in a fantasy novel.
That said, The Keeper's Flame IS a fantasy, and it maintains even less connection with the real world than its prequel. Kloss does a fair job capturing the pageantry and decadent imagery of the castle environment, though I missed the rich nature imagery from the first book. The heart of this story is Daria's "real-girl" reactions to a series of fantastical and magical situations, which results in an episodic and often humorous narrative--think Jo Rowling meets Juliet Marillier, with a twist Meg Cabot.
In any case, I highly recommend picking up Gaia's Secret first, but don't hesitate continuing the series with The Keeper's Flame. Personally, I intend to see this imaginative and entertaining series through to the end. :)
(reviewed long after purchase)