From the Earth to the Shadows (2018) is the second part to this urban fantasy starring Malin, a Valkyrie assigned to send immortals to Kurnugia when their time is up. Things haven’t been as they appear for quite some time. Picking up right where Between the Blade and the Heart (2018), left off, Malin and her friends are trying to find the answers to questions left unanswered in the wake of the murder of Malin’s mother, Marlowe, a fellow Valkyrie. A stacked sequel, there are battle scenes, tender moments, and questioned loyalties galore as the world itself hangs in a balance (4 stars out of 5). Thank you Wednesday Books for the eARC.
This duology’s main draw for me (aside from the bisexual representation) is the relationship between Malin and her mother. As revealed in the previous book, they have a rather aloof relationship. Malin refers to her as mom only when talking about her, but never when addressing her directly. The concept of free will comes up several times throughout this sequel. I’m glad Hocking did not refer to it in a cosmic sense, but rather in a way that challenges personal relationships. Not only did Malin need to team up with ex-girlfriend, Quinn, to get to the root of the imbalance in the world, but she also has a budding romance with the son of a Valkyrie, Asher, who helped set the plot of the first book in motion. Neither of these were as interesting to me as Malin’s exploration of her feelings for Marlowe. Even her missing her mother is complicated. There’s resentment and there’s love and it spoke to me in a deeper way than it did in the first book.
My main gripe, however, was about the settings (I should have sensed some foreshadowing here based on my thread from the previous week). It took me so long to realize this book took place in Chicago, which seems impossible to me, especially given that the author mentioned it in the blog interview for the first book. The neighborhoods were mostly fabricated and I would have enjoyed more nods to landmarks like Willis Tower or other locations that would co-exist in the setting. In addition, I wish more time had been spent in Kurnugia. There could have been ways to thread the above-ground and below-ground plot sequences together in order to make for a more cohesive whole. I might be a bit biased because the descriptions of the different locations within the underworld were so immersive and well-realized. Being able to see the breadth of Hocking’s development of this mythologically-inspired world and it is a feast for anyone who is into that sort of thing.
All in all, if you’re looking for a high stakes urban fantasy with some romance thrown in, this duology is such a treat.
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book. I interviewed her for the release of Between the Blade and the Heart, which you can read here.