Throughout June, GeekMom celebrates Pride Month with lots of LGBTQ content. Follow the Pride Month tag to find all the content in one space (including LGBTQ content from previous years) and keep checking back for more throughout the month. Today’s book review is This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links.
Trigger Warnings: Death/of Parent, Grief, Violence.
This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron is the sequel to This Poison Heart which was reviewed here last year. Although I toyed with whether or not to include a book that is part of a series in this year’s Pride coverage, I opted to in the end simply because the themes included here are so wildly different from everything else in this year’s coverage. Please note that spoilers for This Poison Heart will appear in this review.
In This Poison Heart, we met teenage Briseis who, since birth, has been able to affect all plant life around her through nothing more than willpower. Adopted at a young age, Briseis has no idea where her unique gift came from, but her moms (Mo and mom) are unrelentingly supportive. During the book, Briseis learns that she is descended from the mythical Medea – wife of Jason, niece of Circe, and blessed by the goddess Hecate – and comes to understand that she is descended from a line of women dating back to the Ancient Greece of myth whose job it is to guard the Absyrtus flower, a magical plant capable of granting immortality. However, Briseis’ mom is killed by others wanting to claim the plant’s power for themselves, leading Hecate herself to appear with a deal: reunite all six parts of the flower in 30 days and she will bring Briseis’ mom back to life.
This Wicked Fate picks up immediately from this point with Briseis and those around her planning how exactly to reunite six parts of a flower than has been scattered across the world for thousands of years in only a few days. Mo is heartbroken over the loss of her wife while simultaneously trying to process being thrown into a world of literal myths coming to life, while Briseis is attempting to figure out her feelings for the mysterious Marie after being recently betrayed just weeks after discovering her unique biological family. Fulfilling Hecate’s quest will require them to undertake a truly perilous journey and risk everything – including those they love the most.
When I say that This Wicked Fate jumps in immediately after the events of This Poison Heart, I have never meant so more literally. While most sequels at least make some attempt to refresh readers as to what exactly is going on, This Wicked Fate leaps straight back into the story, to the point where you feel like the author simply wrote one very long book and chose an entirely arbitrary point at which to split it into two. This means that the first few chapters are quite confusing (assuming you haven’t recently reread the first book) as you try to remember who everyone is and what’s going on. With such a large cast of characters (several of whom share the same names) a refresher would really have been appreciated.
As it is, This Wicked Fate feels much like a YA version of Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters but with more queer representation, of which there is a lot thanks to a bisexual main character, female love interest, lesbian parents, and several other queer side characters as well. There’s an epic quest filled with vast amounts of Greek mythology and desperately high stakes to keep the tension high, although one of the big emotional moments was so blindingly obvious right from the start that it did somewhat take away from the drama of the moment.
I didn’t enjoy This Wicked Fate as much as This Poison Heart, I think because most of the big reveals had already been revealed and so there seemed to be a lot more waiting around and fewer interesting moments where the story would unfold and reveal itself. However, if you’ve been on a quest for a queer YA story that isn’t a contemporary romance, this duology might be the fantasy/mythology/retelling series you’ve been looking for.
GeekMom received a copy of this title for review purposes.