book reviews · m/m romance

Book Review: Ginn Hale’s “Lord of the White Hell: Book Two” (2010)

61ne6qyjhel-_sy344_bo1204203200_It this second half of Lord of the White Hell we see the completion of Kiram and Javier’s story as they learn to understand and control the “White Hell” and face its consequences. The book picks up directly where the last book left off and the action begins at once, with no unnecessary “previously-on” to bog down the reader. The pace is swift and pleasing with never a dull moment. I am certain you won’t be able to put this book down! Plan for a late night- it will be worth it.

Book Two has approximately 2000% more action than Book One, both in terms of violence and sex. None of it is gratuitous, however, except for one upsetting, bloody scene towards the end. Kiram and Javier’s physical relationship progresses quickly, as does their emotional connection. That they are deeply in love is clear to anyone.

I still can’t help but wonder, though, if Javier gains more from their relationship than Kiram does: the acceptance of his sexuality, a spiritual conversion, and access to the knowledge he needs to free himself from his curse. What does Kiram gain? Liberation from the predictable, dull life his family has planned from him? I must admit that I’m still troubled by the imbalance in their relationship. But there is no doubt that by choosing Javier and aligning their futures, he is choosing his own path and freeing himself to follow his own passions, with a man who (damn well better) support and care for him with every fibre of his being.

Now, as for the unravelling of the book’s great mysteries. Did I guess the true identity of the main villain? Yes, and you might as well. Does that matter? No, definitely not. The revelations are satisfying nonetheless. It is a clever plot, told cleverly. That the revelations make intuitive sense to the reader is a positive: it means that Hale has included all the necessary details to explain and justify the villain’s motivations. And the final unfolding of events, particularly as it affects Fedeles, is  deeply emotional even if you saw it coming.

My one slight quibble with this book is how structurally different it is compared to Book One. The first book took place (almost) entirely within the grounds of Sagrada Academy and followed all the best cues of the boarding school genre, giving it a pleasing, secure structure. Book Two, however, has its first quarter set at the school before shifting to Kiram’s home town, and then ends with a frantic journey back to the school. This gives the plot structure a very different feel from the first book, and it does feel jarring to read this book right after its predecessor.

I hesitate to call this a negative, however, as being able to experience Kiram’s home was a true delight. Both the city of Anacleto and the Haldiim district where Kiram lives are intriguing places to explore, and Hale brings them to life even better than she did with the Sagrada Academy. Kiram’s home is warm and rich with details, and I’m sure other readers will adore it as much as I did. You can definitely put this on your list of “fictional places to visit”.

And now for a confession. Immediately after finishing this book I rushed off to buy the next in the Cadelonian series, convinced for some reason that it was the next part of Kiram and Javier’s story. When I found out that it’s not– the next books feature another character’s future story- I almost cried. I was so disappointed, despite the fact that the ending of Book Two does feel very complete, and I actually had no reason to believe that there were more sequels. Silly me! I did purchase the next book anyway, and one day I will read it and surely love it. From skimming through it, it is just as well-written and intriguing as Lord of the White Hell, and does feature cameos from Kiram and Javier. For now, though, I am still too sad that their story has come to an end.

{Summary from Amazon.com:}
Kiram fought his family and Cadeleonian bigots to remain in the Sagrada Academy to prove himself as a mechanist and to dispel the deadly shadow curse that threatens to destroy his upperclassman, Javier Tornesal. But when his efforts provoke retaliation, Kiram’s family and home are endangered. Both Kiram and Javier risk everything in a desperate gambit to combat the curse. But they never imagined their battle with come so soon, or that it would be lead by the one person they trust most of all.

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