The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso. Book Review

THE DEFIANT HEIR by Melissa Caruso
Orbit, p/b, 560pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

A dead Falconer, his uniform unmistakable. A man with a power just like hers, floating dead in the water, murdered, and probably his Falcon too. Not the first. And possibly not the last.

The Witch Lords rule their domains separately, but it would take a majority decision at the Conclave to bring about an invasion on Raverra. The Conclave will take place in one month’s time, so Lady Amalia Cornaro has one month to convince them not to attack.

Danger is coming from everywhere: Vaskandra where the Witch Lords and Prince Ruven dwell; from the unknown enemy attacking the Falconers and their bound partners; and as always at her side in the form of her own, unwillingly-bound fire warlock. It is a big task she and Zaira face, but perhaps the hardest part will be facing it together, despite the confines and restrictions of their relationship.

The Defiant Heir tracks the journey towards the Conclave as our heroines simultaneously try to prevent a war and uncover the truth behind the dead Falconer. The politics have grown in complexity and the up close unveiling of the Witch Lords introduces new excitement into the series. Caruso knows how to effectively introduce and use conflict within a narrative and adds depth to areas that could otherwise have been predictable.

The warm/cool relationship between Amalia and Zaira is the greatest strength in this book. At times they give real joy as the relationship moves beyond the initial hostility from Zaira at being bound, and the guilt Amalia carries at that cost of her actions as well as the great control she holds over Zaira’s power. There are tender moments when their unexpressed concern for one another carries through to the reader, and each character at the same time is developing through her own personal struggles – Amalia in beginning to understand that the hard choices have to be made, and as Cornaro heir that she has to start making them, and Zaira in moving towards a more mature understanding of her powers and the need to have them controlled.

The end leaves intrigue and tension aplenty to have the reader looking out for book three, which we are told will not be too far away.