Book Review: The Vine Eater by Carol Beth Anderson
I really loved The Frost Eater, the first book in this unique YA post-apocalyptic fantasy series, so I was very excited to read The Vine Eater. The magic system of this series has always been really intriguing to me, and I appreciated the ways that magic system was further explored and deepened in this book. With that deeper exploration of the magic system, we also get a deeper exploration of the characters and how different aspects the world's magic impact them. The personal stakes for the characters have all been raised in this book in a very meaningful way. I loved the character development and growth that came with that, especially for Zeisha, who really comes into her own in a way that's delightful to see. Of our four main characters, I was definitely rooting for her the most.
We also get a bigger dose of romance in this book as the two couples (Nora + Ovrun and Zeisha + Krey) have to navigate very real and very difficult obstacles in their relationship. Romantic subplots are always a little tricky for me as a reader, especially in YA, but Anderson handles that element of the story very well and in a way that felt nuanced and believable, which I greatly appreciated. Things didn't end up quite where I expected them to by the end of the story, but I actually liked the direction things went in better, even though it was harder to see. It felt more true and I'm really interested to see some of the changing relationship dynamics between these characters in the next book as a result of what happened by the end of this one.
I also really enjoyed getting to see more of the trogs in this book and exploring their culture and lifestyle a little more. A few of them get more prominent roles and develop friendships with our four main characters, and it was interesting to see those interactions. I also want to note that I listened to this on audiobook, which the author narrated herself, and she does a splendid job with that. It was a very enjoyable listen, so definitely consider picking up that version if you're an audiobook listener.
I'm really enjoying this series, and after the way things ended here, I have a lot of questions about what's going to happen in the next book. If the first two books are any indication, I'm sure it's going to be an emotional and thrilling ride.