Where have all the bad men gone, where are all the demons? Where’s the street-wise Mephistopheles to fight the rising odds? Isn’t there a black knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need. I need a fiend! I’m holding out for a fiend, until the end of the night. …Hmm, no, doesn’t sound quite right. Let’s not forget the nail for the shoe for the horse for the kingdom with For Want of a Fiend, by Barbara Ann Wright
Princess Katya Nar Umbriel’s uncle Roland rose from the grave, kidnapped her cousin, and stripped her of her greatest weapon—her Fiendish power. Without her Fiend, Katya doubts her ability to weather the storm her uncle is brewing. When she lacks what even the children in her family possess, can she even call herself an Umbriel?
In only a short time, Starbride has become the princess consort, a pyradisté, and a member of a secret order in charge of protecting the crown. Even steeped in responsibility, she’s still an outsider. While wading through court intrigue and resisting schemes to break her bond with Katya, Starbride must prepare for a covert war. Roland is waiting, watching, ready for any chink in their armor, and he doesn’t care who knows their secrets.
The story of Katya and Starbride continues. In the first book, it got off to a very strong start; but can it keep up the trend?
Well, sort of. For Want of a Fiend is mostly good: it keeps up the action and the intrigue, weaving an interesting and compelling story that keeps me wanting more, while avoiding painful pitfalls like the dreaded Dead Lesbian Penalty which has ruined so many other promising series for me. However, in the end, I don’t feel like it quite measures up to the first book in the series.
My main problem is that it feels like the story has lost an important element with Katya losing her fiend. Sure, she tries to keep up being a badass, but there’s no question that she’s just not as capable of a combatant as she was before. Plus, the story has lost that whole “enemy within” dynamic with her struggling against the internal darkness of the fiend. It just seems like a less interesting direction for the story to take.
I also thought that revelation of Pennynail’s true identity is abrupt and anticlimactic: turns out he’s just some guy named Freddie we’ve never seen or heard about before. It’s not until later in the book that we learn his connection to other characters and reason for keeping his identity a secret. For a mystery that began its build-up in the first book, I was expecting a little stronger of a payoff.
Still, less than perfect doesn’t mean bad – while it isn’t quite on par with the first book in the series, I still think it’s a great book on its own merits.
Just as an end note, I’d like to acknowledge that books like these always seems to have some minor, inconsequential character who I end up loving out of all proportion to their actual role in the plot. This time around, it’s Ursula, the no-nonsense town guard. Sure, Katya and Starbride are great and all, but Ursula is officially my new favorite character of this series. I can’t explain why. It’s just one of those things.
Final Rating: 4/5