Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Dorian Frost wants to focus on his boyfriend and preparing his students for the upcoming academy showcase. It’s hard to be seen in public with Milo though, since the enchanter’s fame makes sure the spotlight always follows him. Dorian is still grieving the loss of their third, even though it’s been years since Finn died, as he recently had to say goodbye to a piece of Finn that still lived within Dorian. But despite all that’s stacked against them, and Dorian’s grumpy demeanor, Finn’s trying to be happy.

However, his homeroom coven of first years is not prepared for what comes next. And though Dorian does his best, the ranking system is stacked against his students. While the academic pressure is bearing down on them all, Dorian is also preoccupied with the way his mind connects to Milo’s. Dorian’s telepathy seems to be evolving and he’s fully aware of the threat Milo faces at work. With Milo’s clairvoyant ability, the enchanter is always trying to elicit the best possible outcome for the most people involved.

When a demon from the past rears its ugly head, Dorian’s world breaks down. What’s happened shouldn’t be possible. And even as the kids make a decent showing in the showcase, they are not out of danger. Facing the demon head on was not the plan, but the secrets it reveals lead to more heartbreak. Though Milo and Dorian do the best to support each other, neither man knows exactly how deep and troublesome things are.

This is the second book in the Branches of the Past and Future series and it picks up not long after the first one ends. It took me a little bit to fall back into the world, as it’s been nearly a year since the last one released, but once I did, I was again absorbed in the complex world Bennet has created. The magic system is wonderfully complex and is part of everything that the characters do. Though once again told solely from Dorian’s POV, since he’s a telepath, we get to see other characters’ thoughts as well.

Dorian is still as grumpy as ever, and definitely has his jerk moments, but since we see the heart of him as well, we know that he has a lot of big feelings underneath his bark. Milo is as sunshiney as ever, and what I really like about him is that even though he’s almost always bright and cheerful, he’s not naïve or stupid, and is very calculating in the best way. Together, they make a good couple, though there is a lot of baggage they are still working through. I liked seeing the love between them here and how that’s continuing to grow.

The rest of the story focuses on both the upcoming showcase Dorian’s students are preparing for, as well as the demons wreaking havoc throughout the city. Milo understands there’s more at play here than meets the eye. I once again enjoyed Dorian’s connection with his homeroom coven students and the complexities there. There are not a whole lot of surprises with how the showcase shakes out, knowing these kids as we do. But there’s an intensity there I really enjoyed. On the other hand, the rest of the mystery culminates in an epic and emotional battle, especially with how things ended.

And then the author throws a huge curve ball in the very last chapter that ramps up the anticipation for the next book.

Overall, I found the pacing for this book a little better than the first and a really nice balance between the plotlines. I love the MCs and their complexities, and I love getting immersed in this world. There’s been some character growth, though at this point I would’ve liked to see a bit more of certain characters. If you’re looking for a magical realism AU, then this book and series is one you should check out.