I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. And my honest opinion? I loved it.
However, sequels are often hard to pull off. Not only do they need to be great books on their own (and we all know how hard writing those are), but they need to advance the world, further develop the characters, and raise the stakes. As if that wasn’t enough, they need to be sure to appeal to readers of the first book. But as far as I’m concerned, The Tomb of the Sea Witch pulls it off.
No spoilers ahead.
As I first started reading, I felt like it was missing something. On reflection, I think it was because this starts out as full on fantasy. One of the biggest appeals of the first book for me was the detective/magic mashup, but there’s little of that in this one. Once I got into the rhythm of reading, though, that feeling went away.
Why is that? Because the two books feel the same. They have the same style, the same tone, and the same humor, even if the setting is different. If you liked the first book, you’ll definitely like this one. Even if it takes a couple chapters to get back into the story, it’s totally worth it.
A lot more of the world is explored in this book. Most of it takes place at what’s basically a Hogwarts for villains (excuse me, antiheroes), but it doesn’t feel derivative after its introduction. Part of that is because not a lot of time is spent on the classes or school aspect, but mainly it’s because the focus is on the different species that attend the school.
Not only does this set it apart from Hogwarts, but it widens the characters’ (and the reader’s) knowledge of the world. It gives a chance to explore the magic more, especially by learning how magic relates to the different species. Plus, it gives Crispin a chance to adopt a bunch of pets. Always a good thing.
Speaking of Crispin, I really like what’s happening with him. I don’t want to spoil anything, but he’s got a lot going on in the magic department. I’m excited to see where his character goes.
That being said, I’m not sure about his relationship with Molly. Although I like the role it plays in the story, it’s pretty rushed. That’s less on Crispin’s side, though, and more on Molly.
I feel like she’s the weakest part of the book. Although she’s important to the story, and her character could be one I grow to love, I didn’t see enough to get a clear mental picture of her. Much of her characterization is what people say about her rather than what she does.
But for Cordelia and Nick, the character development is excellent. Cordelia, especially, is awesome. In the first book, I chalked her up as the ‘feisty’ character, but there were two specific scenes that changed that for me. The first is when ‘Crispin Loses His Temper’ and the second is the, um, heated discussion she has with Malcolm, the dragon headmaster. Cordelia is tied with Crispin for my favorite character, and now I appreciate her quirkiness because that’s not all she is.
As for raising the stakes, well, there’s not much I can say without spoilers, but yes, the stakes have been raised. Something big is brewing in those epilogues, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
The one other small complaint I have is that the book seems rushed, especially near the end. One of the (minor) battles was skipped over, and the denouement was hurried. But it isn’t too big of a deal for the overall enjoyment of the story.
If you’ve read the first book, read this. If you haven’t read the first book, read that, then read this. Thanks to this book, I am officially hooked on the series.