This is the second book in the Thorns and Fangs series, and this review will contain spoilers for the first book.
Ben and Nate have left New Camden to spend some down time on Nate’s family farm in Little River. Ben is still acclimatizing to his human-ness, such as being able to walk in the sunlight without the need to drink blood to survive. On the other hand, Nate is content to ignore the fact that he has survived a necromancer’s attack and the question about his supernatural abilities, instead choosing to focus his energies on taking care of Ben, his Ma, and his brother, Ethan.
The aptly named Little River is tiny, quiet, and stark contrast to New Camden, which is home to the largest population of supernatural beings in the world – until a dead body is discovered on the Granger farm. Ben soon realizes that though he may not be a vampire any longer, he still has the instincts and skills of a paranormal investigator. As he discovers more about the death of the Hunter and its links to demonic activity, not only does he uncover buried truths about his own past, but secrets about Nate’s family too, putting his relationship with Nate in jeopardy and all their lives in danger.
When I selected Uprooted for review, I did not know that it was the second book in a series, so I will say that reading Thorns and Fangs before Uprooted is essential. (As a side note, I did read Thorns and Fangs and it is amazing!)
Uprooted definitely has a different atmosphere to Thorns and Fangs. Although the story is told through an omniscient narrator, it is Ben’s thoughts and feelings which Gillian St. Kevern focuses on. This is relevant because Uprooted is very much Ben’s journey. Now back to being a human, he is trying to find his place in the world, without his sire’s influence. By being alongside Ben, the reader really appreciates his strength and tenacity, as well as the love he has to give. I think St. Kevern communicates Ben’s sense of emptiness when he is away from Nate so well that it is almost palpable and compounded by the memories and emotions that flood Ben about his own childhood. Ben’s introspection means that Uprooted has less (no, not none) of the eroticism that existed previously. Some readers may be disappointed by this, but I was not as I feel St. Kevern echoes Ben’s character and development perfectly in the way that she chooses to execute the story.
Uprooted does not have the heart-stopping moments of danger that were frequent in Thorns and Fangs (well, apart from the climax, which I’m still shocked by). The story is slower paced but no less addictive and I loved the way that St. Kevern introduces new characters like Ma, Ethan, and George, whilst keeping a link to old favorites like Aki, Kenzie, and Gunn. I think I was most impressed by the fact that Uprooted‘s plot is so different from Thorns and Fangs, when often sequels can be a carbon copy of the first book in a series.
I think St. Kevern’s real mastery in Uprooted is the way in which she retains the mystery: about Nate and Ethan, the identity of the agent, what lengths Ben will go to in order to defeat the demon, and whether Ben and Nate’s relationship will withstand the events. It is this mystery that makes Uprooted such a consuming novel.
Uprooted was one of those perfect contradictions for a reader; I wanted to rush through the book, but I didn’t want the story to be over. I was ecstatic when the author told me that she is working on the third book! I loved Thorns and Fangs, but the surprising depth of Uprooted‘s plot was definitely the icing on the cake for me. Is it too early to say that this is my favorite book of 2017?