Happy publication day to this beauty! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams towards the end of last year and just reading through my notes to write this review got me excited to read it again! It certainly packs an emotional punch, so be prepared.As it is a sequel (to The Ninth Rain, in case you didn’t know – go read that first, it’s great!) I won’t dwell on the plot, I’ll just say that it continues on a little after the ending of The Ninth Rain and while we get a lot of answers, a whole host of new questions are raised. Luckily, Williams’ fantastic writing and intriguing characters still leave me with plenty to chat about.
Similar to The Ninth Rain, The Bitter Twins is full of great dialogue that genuinely had me laughing out loud. I really admire the way Williams expertly weaved humour, sarcasm, wit and intelligence into all of her characters’ actions and conversations. It adds an extra dimension to the reading experience and despite all the terrible things they have to endure and witness, the way they snap, tease and banter with each other -even the war-beasts!- is so natural and realistic that I forgot that I was reading. I felt like I was actually there, living the story alongside them. It’s wonderfully immersive.
The pacing felt a bit slow to begin with but it was a joy to be back in the world of Sarn and reading about the characters I love. I didn’t find the slowness off-putting as my favourite thing about this series is the characters. I love how complicated they all are; they’ve all seen/done/endured terrible things and they’re all a little bit broken by their experiences. The way that the author shows us how they battle their demons and how it affects the way they behave and interact is brilliant. What’s more, they all deal with it differently and in unexpected ways. It really is so enjoyable to watch them evolve and find hope and joy in each other despite the horrors. I particularly like Bern, he is such a solid beacon of hope, happiness and selflessness that is truly heart-warming. The way he interacted with Aldasair in The Ninth Rain was so well done and this continues in The Bitter Twins. He is possibly the least broken, but the best equipped to deal with it in others. We all need a Bern in our lives.
I also adore Vintage. Her consistent optimism and readiness to deal with whatever comes at her is empowering. I wish I could be her friend. Her ‘well it’s happened now, let’s focus on what we can do’ attitude buoys me and she remains an integral member of the team even though she has no magical prowess. Her intelligence and quick thinking are certainly incredibly important to the events that unfolded in The Ninth Rain and continue to be so in the events of The Bitter Twins.
I could quite happily ramble on about my love of Tor, Noon, Aldasair and all the new characters we meet in The Bitter Twins but I don’t want to give anything away. In case you can’t already tell, the character development is just as wonderful as in the first novel and I cannot wait to see where they all go from here. They are all so, so different from how we first met them, especially Hestillion who is seriously going through some amazing shifts, and I can only imagine how they will continue to change.
As for general comments about the plot, it kept me guessing all the way through. I spent a lot of the novel with a growing uneasiness as certain facts were unveiled and little movements and comments kept me worried about the bigger picture. Although there were a few parts where I knew how certain scenes would play out, these were only small and didn’t really affect the world as a whole. Be ready for some great reveals and twists that may break your heart, but that will overall leave you fist pumping the air.
Huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy in exchange for an honest review. Go buy it, read it, love it!