Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Soulmates Maddox and Jake survived the mysterious “challenge” at their alma mater, Reinhold, and after enjoying a short respite with their families in Seattle, they’re ready to go back. Maddox is returning partly to learn how to use water magic, a new affinity he gained in the process of bonding his soul to Jake’s. And Jake has accepted a teaching position at Reinhold itself to teach the next generation of warriors. But there’s a far more dire task these two lovers and their friends must address: uncovering who is behind the deadly challenge and stopping them. Suspect number one is none other than Maddox’s own father, but for the sake of uncovering any and all potential threats, Jake, Maddox, and their friends have agreed to proceed with caution.

While they investigate, Maddox struggles to understand just how much power he commands. More than once he has put himself and others in danger as the powerful magic overflows his internal “well.” At the same time, Jake begins to feel increasingly guilty, feeling like all the harm is not only coming for Maddox, but that Jake himself is responsible for it. The two lovers are put to the test when all their sleuthing reveals not only who is responsible for the challenge, but that they have suddenly disappeared. With the fear that losing this chance may leave a dangerous criminal unpunished, Maddox, Jake, their friends, and mentors all rush to confront a powerful foe. The battle that ensues could tear Jake and Maddox apart and, when all is said and done, no one’s world will ever be the same.

A Consumption of Souls is the second installment in Kate Munro’s Soulmates series. This story picks up quickly after the events of the first book, Soulmates. Our established couple goes through growing pains driven by Jake’s guilt over how he and Maddox ended up soulmates. This adds a sharply defined element of hurt-comfort to the story. The soulmate bond these two share also gets a little more fleshed out and gives a sense of near obsession-level preoccupation with each other. The characters don’t tackle this, but the idea does cross their minds. The fact that they literally cannot be physically separated for more than a few hours is also a fun device that lets even this very established couple pine for one another.

As far as the overall development goes, I admit I felt like the basic premise is a little underwhelming. I think this stems from not having a chance to get to know the characters or this world outside “crisis” mode. If book one established what the mysterious and dangerous challenge is, book two is about our MCs basically leveling up for a big battle. Mostly, this involved Maddox doing more and more powerful magic than anyone thinks he should be able to do. At first, I was curious about learning how powerful Maddox has become, but there is so little to compare it to, even as he is literally at a school for training mages and his mentors are extremely powerful magic users like him. All this training and planning culminate in finally both identifying who the culprit behind the challenge is and getting a chance to confront them.

The climax of the story, a battle against the mage who created the challenge, was arguably the best part. The big battle scene has our two lovers spitting up to handle different tasks. Naturally, this builds in a lot of suspense and I was eager to find out what was happening to each of them while apart. The battle scenes themselves were a little hard to follow, though. I thought there was a lack of nuance in the progression, so how Maddox was fighting at the beginning versus how Maddox was fighting at the end felt the same in terms of magic. The only difference is that he was using so much magic, he was losing himself to it–a fact that seemed momentous, but gets quickly forgotten by everyone in the wake of the battle and the realization they have not yet reached their goal.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good follow up to the first story, but it exhibits much of the same narrative pitfalls as the first. With the drama of Jake and Maddox becoming soulmates having been resolved in book one, all book two can focus on is the challenge and I struggled to find meaning in that given no one really seems to know what it is or why it exists or even who runs it. That last element was a major part of the plot in this book, but if the identity of the mastermind was foreshadowed in book one, it was a foregone conclusion in book two. With a big portion of this book dedicated to the MCs training to fight that villain, there was a disappointing lack of finding clues and ruminating over them.

If you enjoyed book one or just love fated-lover tropes, if mages are your thing, or you really get into any kind of good-versus-evil themes, then I think you’ll enjoy this story. The story actually on the pages unfolds with enough interest and the fantasy-equivalent of a jump scare (like someone exploding with a new power they shouldn’t have) is compelling enough to keep me turning pages.