Where do I even begin?!
I LOVED AND ADORED Across a Star-Swept Sea, even more than For Darkness Shows the Stars! Basically, it had everything Amy looks for in a book. Adventure + genetic engineering + fascinating world building + strong heroine + smart hero + love story + pretty dresses + the sea + description that is so delicious I want to eat it like ice cream = perfect Amy book!
Across a Star-Swept Sea is a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars, taking place in the same universe. I have to admit, at first I was confused by this, because while there were similarities between the two books, there were also enough differences in terms that were being used and in the names of the places that were supposedly the only places left on the world, that I was wondering how it all fit together. Thankfully, when you keep reading it does eventually make sense. So while I was confused sometimes, it did not overshadow how I was instantly transported into and captivated by Persis’ secret life as a spy. In this retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, we see that by day, Lady Persis Blake plays a silly aristo who cares about nothing but her appearance. But secretly she is playing the role of the famous spy, The Wild Poppy, trying to change the way of the revolution. As someone who was not familiar with The Scarlet Pimpernel, I had no problem getting into the story. In fact, I think it was easier for me to get into this book than FDSTS, as I was not trying to get caught up into the minutia of which character is representative of which character from the original story (which for FDSTS was Persuasion).
The secondary main character, Justen Helo, meets Persis early on and is forced to pose as her love interest when he seeks asylum from Princess Isla. I really loved Persis, who was brave and smart and cunning, and I loved Justen just as much! He was also extremely smart, very focused and ambitious. He holds on to regrets from his past and his family’s past and uses them as the driving force for his work. He slowly recognizes over time that Persis is much more than a pretty face, and the way these two thought about each other, interacted with each other, and misunderstood each other could be so frustrating, but it was in all the right ways. It was never a frustration that made me want to throw my book across the room, but I was definitely close to shouting at the characters: “Justen, Persis is the Wild Poppy! Persis! Just tell Justen who you are!”
The plotting and pacing were perfect, except maybe at the very end, when things seemed to wrap up a little too quickly. I was always intrigued and loved so many of the characters (and hated some as well, as you’re supposed to!). And I absolutely loved hearing about the world of New Pacifica, which sounds completely gorgeous and heavenly (I want to vacation there now please!) and about Persis’ wardrobe, because I’m a sucker for pretty dresses. There were so many detailed elements that Diana Peterfreund included that just made everything feel so real.
I also felt the romance more this time than I had in FDSTS, and it was such a nice slow burn, which I’m also a big fan of.
We do get some cameo appearances from Elliot, Kai, and some of the others from FDSTS. It was sort of weird to see them through Persis and Justen’s eyes, because they viewed them differently than I did. But of course, to them they came from this strange land and they didn’t know anything of their back story. It was almost a little sad to see Elliot and Kai again but not get their perspective, but I was glad to see them, and Ro. But not Andromeda. Bleh.
All in all though, I pretty much loved everything about this book! If you love intriguing world building, have an interest in genetic engineering, and just love a good story, you have to check out these books! And does anyone know if another one is coming out? Because I need one now.