Life seems to have finally slowed for Gwyn. After the battle with Molech Suun, the Clockwork City is in ruins and Gwyn, reluctantly, is one of the figureheads of the movement to rebuild it.
But she can’t shake the feeling that her old master Faolan is still alive. And with Scions to destroy and a dangerous sorceress gaining ever more power to the south, Gwyn is going to need all the help she can get.
Necromancers, rebellious pirates, and forbidden kingdoms beckon Gwyn and shapeshifter Lucian as they head out in search of Faolan in The Stars Beyond the Stone, the third instalment of Bonnie Wynne‘s The Price of Magic.
It likely goes without saying that as the third in an ongoing series, there’s not much here for new readers. But for those clued up on the story so far, The Stars Beyond the Stone offers more of the fascinating worldbuilding, brutal action scenes, and engaging character development that have come to typify this YA fantasy series.
Focusing on Gwyn, Lucian, and to a slightly lesser extent, Faolan and the increasingly interesting Alcide, is a great move from Wynne. Shifting the focus back to some of the key characters from the first book, The Ninth Sorceress, suits the latest episode’s tone as a bridge to bigger things. And while there’s new and exciting characters a-plenty, it’s honestly a pleasure to see the old gang back together. Plus I’ve got good news for the shippers – there’s much to fuel that particular fire!
Of course, that’s not to say The Stars Beyond the Stone is all about its cast. There’s plenty of action, adventure, and violent blood magic to enjoy, and it does a lot to advance the plot and expand Wynne’s world map. The finale in particular hits pretty much every mark you could hope for. There’s drama, danger, and moral dilemma, all set in a city that’s been teased from the get-go.
That said, there’s a few moments that jar. In particular, there’s a major character reveal that feels, honestly, a little unnecessary; though I’m happy to be proven wrong as the series goes on. In addition, the habit for ending a chapter with Gwyn passing out or falling asleep continues (though I appreciate that Wynne amusingly takes it to the point where even Gwyn herself seems to question it), and Lucian’s sort-of-Scottish accent is becoming an unwelcome distraction. It might be personal preference, but it does grate a little when he’s the only character with a specific, and slightly stereotypical, accent written into the text.
Reviewing as a returning reader, The Stars Beyond the Stone absolutely delivers. There’s exciting developments for many of the original squad, and plenty of build up for the chapters to come. It does feel a little like filler at times, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and Wynne makes sure to hit some key plot points along the way. A solid addition to an engaging fantasy series.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Bonnie Wynne’s The Stars Beyond the Stone is out now through Talem Press.