by A.C. Gaughen
Series: The Elementae #2
Published on January 22, 2019 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus's black market empire to captain her own trading vessel--and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.
But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets--not only that Aspasia is an air Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can’t find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.
Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.
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Is it possible to love a sequel more than the first book when you don’t remember much of the first book?
Because, if so, I LOVE THIS BOOK EVEN MORE!
Imprison the Sky was just. . . well, amazing. It’s been long enough since I read Reign the Earth (and also read over 100 books in between) that I can’t make a direct comparison to the first book but, really, I don’t need to. This sequel stands all on its own and while the story connects with the first book in the last 25% or so, the rest of the book is its own entity.
Following Aspasia (Asp), Imprison the Sky sets sail with her and her teenage crew of freed slaves trading goods and trying to fight the system in whatever way they can. This book deals heavily with slavery and if that is a triggering topic for you, then this might not be the book for you as it’s prominent throughout. Asp and her crew are charged with transporting slaves to Asp’s “boss,” Cyrus, a true villainess if I ever saw one. She holds Asp in her grip, threatening to find and hurt the one thing Asp wants more than anything else: her family.
Oh my goodness, the THEMES in this book!
Gaughen really presses the idea of family and the lengths you’ll go to in order to protect them. I loved that at the heart of it, Asp just wanted her family back. This wasn’t a high seas epic adventure, though it had lots of action and seafaring fun. It wasn’t a romance despite having one of my new favorite ships. It was a story about Asp, a girl who had to grow up too fast trying to make it in a cruel world.
Look, I just really liked Asp as a protagonist. I liked Shalia too in Reign the Earth but something about this book was just so engaging and so exciting to read. I think there was more action to start with but Gaughen didn’t let the emotional growth of the characters sputter out for the sake of a sword battle. Everything (and everyone) felt genuine, like I could meet these characters. You know, if it weren’t for the whole fantasy/fictional world bit.
That ship tho
No, not the actual ship. My new favorite ship. Asp and Kairos. You might recall Kairos from the previous book, one of Shalia’s brothers (which I had to initially look up because I did forget. . . ). Both he and Asp are emotionally scarred and it shows. Every action reflected their goals and current emotional state so well. I never felt like I was being told anything, it was always shown through decisions and words and internal thoughts. That goes for all the characters, but with these two especially, I felt like this made their relationship really strong and believable.
Kairos isn’t Asp’s first relationship and you meet some of her past significant others which only strengthens everything with Kairos. For those looking for rep, Asp is bi (based on the relationships presented, though nothing is officially stated in the story). View Spoiler »And what I loved even more was the clear consent for sex, with a reversal of the usual “virgin girl and experienced guy” situation. Both aspects were wonderfully refreshing and even though there’s only one scene, I don’t see it enough and I remembered it. « Hide Spoiler
Now, where does Imprison the Sky fit in with the rest of the series?
I’m going to assume that we’re getting at least one more book, maybe 2 more (one for each element). This book falls after Reign the Earth but the two books don’t connect plot-wise until the last quarter so you go for the bulk of this book without knowing what’s really going on with Shalia. Which, after I got into Imprison the Sky, I was totally fine with, but it did feel a bit weird once the characters met because there was that disconnect. It didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book by any means and if you read them back to back I think it’ll work a bit better, but just keep that in mind.
I’ll be curious who leads the next book (assuming the trend continues) and which element will be the most prominent.
All in all, I think Imprison the Sky is a smash hit and just as good (if not better) than the first book. If you haven’t started the Elementae series, now is an EXCELLENT time and if you have, I think you’ll love this swashbuckling sequel!