The second book in The Last Binding trilogy and the action, adventure, and romance start to deepen! Thanks to Tor Dot Com for the gifted copy of this book.
Here’s more about A Restless Truth
The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.
What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.
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I went into this one without reading the first book over. It’s a rare occasion when you get to dive into a sequel or another book in the series without having to worry if you need some important fact or remember some detail that the book previously covered. Luckily, I didn’t feel the need to reread the first one without reading the second. Similarly to reading a romance novel series, there are some tidbits that call back to the first book and there’s mention of the couple from the first book as well (yes, Robin and Edwin make a short appearance in this one!), but you can pretty much use context clues to figure out what’s going on and what you may have missed from book 1.
The book follows Robin’s sister, Maud, as she takes a cross-Atlantic ship from America to England. While aboard the ship, an elderly woman is murdered and some precious items are stolen. Because Maud knew the person who was murdered, she felt inclined to figure out who might have killed her and taken her stuff. She recruits Violet, a performer on board the ship as well as a magician, alongside her philandering companion, Mr. Hamilton, to help solve the mystery and retrieve the stolen items.
This is the part of the book I absolutely loved. I didn’t think that Freya Marske would go the route of a mystery aboard a ship, but it worked. The ship was also a perfect setting. It leaves you with a small radius to cover as well as trapping the killer on board with the rest of the people. It also helped that this boat reminded me so much of Titanic with its opulence, its class system, and why people like Violet were on board. As you continue to read along, you find out more about what happened to the items and why Mrs. Navenby (the elderly woman) was murdered in the first place.
The magic in this story was way more obvious than in the first one. Maybe it’s because Edwin is a weak magician and Violet has more magic in her finger than Edwin has in his entire body, but I loved seeing her casting her cradles, glowing with magic, and seeing how everyone else is affected by the magic as well. There’s seances and speaking with the dead and it was so much fun seeing how much magic is incorporated into the book. Also, it really dives into the world-building in this one as well. I loved learning about the lore behind the stolen objects and why they were so important. I loved seeing where the story is taking us and figuring out how that might turn out in this trilogy.
This book also dives deeply into Violet and Maud’s relationship. If you’ve read A Marvellous Light, then you know that these books are not only historical fantasies, but also heavy romances. Instead of the continuation of Robin and Edwin’s relationship, we see the budding romance between Violet and Maud. Their relationship felt like fire the moment they met. I mean, it was awkward how they met each other, but it felt like an exploration of sex for Maud and the first real relationship for Violet. Both characters grew immensely in this regard opening themselves up to new experiences and trying to be a better lover and partner for each other. It was really great to see their romance bloom throughout the story.
However, it felt disjointed. As much as I loved both the mystery and the romance aspects of this story, I felt like I was reading two separate books. The romance would kind of suddenly come on in between pieces of evidence they were able to find and it did it in a weird clunky way that didn’t flow smoothly from one piece to the next. I really thought the book could do with an editor to work out these little kinks and make both parts of this book a whole story rather than two pieces compartmentalized from each other.
But overall, I really loved the continuation of this world. I can’t wait to read the next book and I can already see where Freya Marske plans to take this story in the final book.
One thought on “A Restless Truth by Freya Marske // Book Review”
Lovely review. I enjoyed the mystery part of this story but found the long lovemaking scenes a bit of a put off.