Diamond & Dawn by Lyra Selene is a nice addition to her Amber & Dusk stories. It picks up from where Sylvie, or Mirage, and her friends successfully carried off their coup to depose the wicked Severine Sabourin so Sylvie could become the new empress of the Amber City. However, Sylvie is finding it hard to become the city’s new Sun Heir. The people don’t trust her, and she finds herself slipping back into the dusky nicknames she has tried to leave behind. When her throne is challenged, Sylvie may lose everything she has fought so hard to earn.
I thought book two in this series was every bit as engaging as book one. Perhaps the only thing I didn’t like was the author’s take on religion. As a Catholic, I’m very devout and I found the way she handled her world’s religion a bit disrespectful and badly portrayed how religion ought to be. Despite that, the characters are fairly complex. Sylvie is constantly plagued by moral dilemmas of what she is to do with the power she has stolen and the lives she has taken. Other characters are embittered by their experiences in book one and it takes Sylvie time to heal the wounds she inadvertently caused. All in all, a good book filled with pretty decent descriptions, perfect for readers of Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic Press (A Scholastic Imprint)
Profanity/Language: 6 mild obscenities; 5 derogatory names.
Violence/Gore: Many instances of violence and gore, including but not limited to: Numerous flashbacks to a coup and the violence sustained and dealt therein; on several occasions, a character is attacked by assassins and nearly killed; there are numerous occasions of soldiers being sent to hunt down members of a group known as Red Masks and kill them or interrogate them for information; a character has a device implanted that saved his life but causes him continuous pain, particularly when he and another character touch; a woman’s “legacy” power is the ability to poison others via touch; implication of past abuse; a character has frequent memories of how it felt to kill someone; characters occasionally exchange insults and taunts and threaten bodily violence toward each other; a girl talks about how her legacy ruined a man’s face and prevented him ever speaking again; a girl reports instances of abuse at the hands of her peers, including getting acid flung in her face and being forced to drink poison to see how far her legacy could protect her; a prisoner is brought out to be executed; a boy is killed by an arrow; a man pins another man against a wall and throttles him, but does not kill him; characters fight and punch, and a girl is accidentally struck with a character’s painful legacy; a man reproaches a woman on her failure to purge a government’s corrupt system and allowing dissenters to be summarily executed without trial; a character finds someone lying on the ground, choking on a poisoned necklace; a character dies; in an extended scene, a girl is forced to make her way through a deadly labyrinth where she is threatened with death as the ground keeps breaking beneath her, is forced to leap through sliding doors that could crush her, climbs up razored rock walls and gets javelins shot at her head, faces diamond-looking statues that come to life in order to kill her, and finally jumps from a desperate height during a competition in order to win the bout; a girl wakes in pain from injuries, especially in her face where she was sprayed with diamond shards; a girl is attacked by a man wearing a red mask and barely escapes with the aid of another character; a character is revealed to be an assassin; a girl is threatened by a sword; a man throws a sword at an illusion and strikes another character, killing him; soldiers battle other soldiers with some description of violence and gore; a character squeeze’s a girl’s neck and places a sword on her throat, and the girl awakens and grips the sword, cutting her palm; a woman coughs up an artifact she swallowed; a character dies; a man suffers pain to get rid of a legacy.
Sex/Nudity: Many instances of sex and nudity, including but not limited to: a girl often sleeps in a man’s bed for warmth and protection; a girl removes a jacket from a boy’s body, and there is some sexual tension in the scene despite the fact he is wearing clothing beneath the jacket, since she touches him amorously through his clothing; characters kiss passionately; a man and woman press their hips against each other and almost kiss; mention of a woman being pregnant with another man’s child; a girl claims to spend most nights in another man’s bed; a man rips a girl’s dress, exposing lacy bloomers, so she can ride a horse; many instances of characters kissing each other; a man jokes about being an expert in taking off corsets and helps a girl undo her stays, once touching her skin by accident; a man carries a girl after an attempted assassination; a boy talks about a culture encouraging platonic, same-sex relationships; a man refers to a girl as his paramour; mention of a trysting site; two drunken girls reel out into a street, faces close together (possible lesbian implication); a boy and girl dance; a girl cuts off her dress during a competition in order to move more freely; girls tell each other they love each other (not sexual, more as friends); characters flirt; a man tells a woman he loves her; a shirtless man lounges in a woman’s room; a girl opens her arms to reveal her bare, glittering chest (this scene is unclear if the character is wearing a bodice or if she really is bare-chested or not and it’s more hinted that her skin is painted silver); a man and woman sleep separate on the same bed; a boy opens his shirt to examine his skin; scenes of sexual tension through the book.
Mature Subject Matter:
Religious conflicts; death of family members; death of a child; death of friends; treachery; betrayal; emotional child abuse; gambling; marriage infidelity; divorce; bankruptcy; gender issues; assassination attempts; murder.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Mention of wine at a holiday; mention of hangovers; a man has alcohol on his breath; a character speaks to a female bartender; a bottle of liquor sits out on a table; characters drink liquor; characters drink wine; mention of girls getting wine-drunk; mention of too much drinking and someone wielding a wine bottle as a club; a man smells of tabak smoke; people pass bottles around; tabak smoke is used to dull the senses; characters drink ice wine that contains a mild truth or lie poison; mention of drinks and people drinking; a wine glass shatters; people are described is drunk; a man is found horrifically drunk in an effort to mask his pain; a girl reports being immune to drugs, poison and alcohol; characters drink and gamble; a girl drinks a pain potion; memory of empty wine glasses on someone’s table; a man sloshes wine into his cup; a woman is flushed as though she has been drinking; a girl tells people to walk into a palais, claim the biggest room they can find and sip on wine if it will make them happy; the ground is splattered with blood and liquor; a man reports being bribed with the promise of a half-decent cocktail.