Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
No Quarter (The Ambeth Chronicles #2) by Helen Jones is the sequel to Oak and Mist (The Ambeth Chronicles #1), which I reviewed in this post. In effort to prevent spoilers (for both No Quarter and Oak and Mist), I’ve intentionally kept this review a bit vague and focused more on my experience as a reader than the novel itself.
No Quarter continues Alma’s journey in Ambeth and her quest to recover the lost Regalia. The story picks up literally where Oak and Mist left off — on the same evening and at the celebration where the reader left the characters. I found this an interesting choice, but having read Oak and Mist recently, I was able to get right back into the world. I do wonder if this would be jarring for those that read Oak and Mist when it first came out.
Most of the action of No Quarter revolves around Alma’s romantic and other relationships, with the search for the Regalia relegated to the background. While I appreciate a good romance story and love triangle as much as anyone, I admit this disappointed me a little. Don’t get me wrong — the story is still plenty entertaining and the novel provides a lot of great character building — but I would have preferred more about the quest for the Regalia and the “fantasy” elements of this young adult fantasy romance.
However, the end of No Quarter changes the tone of the novel entirely. Again, to avoid spoilers, I cannot be specific. What I will say is this: as a reader, I was simultaneously surprised, saddened, and excited by the twist at the end. It sets up a lot for the next book, and I cannot wait to see how the quest for the Regalia plays out given these changes. As an author, I applaud Jones for the bold (and probably difficult) choice she made with the end of the book.
Once again, Jones proves herself to be an excellent storyteller. No Quarter is a (mostly) light read, and it is delightfully easy to be captivated by the world of Ambeth and the emotions of the characters. Jones expresses several themes through her characters (young love, growing up and finding one’s self, loss, etc.) and gives the reader the opportunity to explore and think on how those experiences have changed the characters (and perhaps the reader, herself).
Overall, No Quarter is a light, fun read with a rather surprising twist at the end. It definitely leans more toward the romance side than the fantasy, but I have a feeling that this will be welcome for most readers. The ending, while shocking, sets up several exciting possibilities for the third book in the series and will likely leave the reader anxious for another trip to Ambeth.
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