Title: The Skylighter
Author: Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers’ Chronicles, #2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: March 22nd 2016
*I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review*
In Becky Wallace’s first novel The Storyspinner, Johanna Von Arlo’s life took a terrible turn when the death of her father results in her family being cast out of the Performers’ troupe they’d been a part of her whole life. When Johanna is given an opportunity to work for the young Lord Rafael DeSilva of Santarem, she enters an unknown world of politics and intrigue. Johanna’s life is put in jeopardy when it’s discovered she is the last heir to the kingdom that separates Santarem from the mythical land of Olinda. In The Skylighter, the concluding book in the Keepers’ Chronicles duology, the wall between worlds is about to collapse, allowing power-hungry Keepers through who wish to enslave the people of Santarem, and only Johanna stands in their way. With the help of Rafi and the gifted Keepers who are determined to save both worlds, Johanna must reach the wall or watch her world crumble.
As the next duke of Santarem, it is Rafi’s responsibility to keep his people safe. Johanna holds the key and Rafi has taken it upon himself to get her to the wall safely. But the tentative romance between the two may complicate their journey. Johanna has spent her life as a Performer and knowing her real identity hasn’t changed the way she views herself. Rafi has been raised to put duty above everything else, but this view often clashes with Johanna’s, who isn’t ready to take the throne and whose only wish is to protect her little brother, Michael, the only remaining member of her family. These differences in opinion test their relationship, but I liked that the author doesn’t simplify the situation by making one right and the other wrong. Both have something important they need to protect and neither view is a detriment to their characters.
The Skylighter still retains a number of different perspectives, something I found disconcerting in the previous book. This time around, I didn’t have as much of a problem juggling these points of view. A large part of this reason is minor characters like Rafi’s brother Dom are given larger roles. While Rafi’s been away, the decisions of Santarem have fallen on Dom. For much of his life Dom has been the fun-loving brother, carefree and mischievous, the very opposite of his brother, but in this second book Dom really comes into his own. Santarem is on the verge of war and while it would be easy for Dom to defer the responsibilities to his mother, he eventually understands that he’s just as capable as his brother and his contribution plays a large role in the novel. I still did not feel the same kind of connection with the Keepers in this second installment, mostly because I feel their story would have resonated more if we had been given more backstory earlier on. Overall, The Skylighter was a good conclusion, but I would have liked to have seen more in terms of world-building when it came to the Keepers’ land of Olinda.