The Blood of the Hydra by Michelle Madow
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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Thanks to Madow and Dreamscape Publishing for the ARC!
I had some definite problems with the first novel in this series (you can check out my review here!) - but 'The Blood of the Hydra' was a definite step up from the 'The Prophecy of Shadows.' Probably the best summary I can give you is: fast-paced fantasy quest.
The elements (geddit?) I loved in the first novel were still here: the fast pacing, the interesting witch premise, and the aspects of Greek mythology. I must put particular emphasis on the fast pace of this novel, because that was really what kept me hooked. Reading 'The Blood of the Hydra' was like watching an action movie that jumps from fight scene to fight scene, with some personal drama sprinkled throughout to keep it interesting.
I particularly enjoyed the lotus fruit chapters - they were carefree and fun, which I did not see much of earlier in this story. Lotus!Nicole is my favourite Nicole, and I felt I understood our MC a lot better after seeing how she acted in this particular scenario. I did not really connect with her in 'The Prophecy of Shadows', so this was a nice surprise. I also thought the concept of the Lotus Eaters was intriguing, and definitely my favourite of all the quests the Elementals have been on so far.
'The Blood of the Hydra' had some interesting moral dilemmas which I appreciated. Often, fast paced novels sacrifice moral complexity for speed, which did not happen in this book. I don't want to specify exactly what - because spoilers - but the very nature of their quests in this novel allowed for much more exciting dilemmas, and Madow considered all angles and wrote them beautifully.
It was also nice to get some fresh blood in this novel. I always enjoy the introduction of new characters when they add something to the plot. Ethan especially left an impression on me - I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of him as the Elementals' story progresses. I hope so, anyway!
Now for the downside - the romance. I still just don't feel it. If you have read my reviews before, you know that I am extremely picky when it comes to romance subplots, so maybe I am just being too precious. But I felt nothing between Nicole and Blake other than a mutual appreciation for how pretty the other one is. Maybe this is just a sacrifice that had to be made in order to keep up the epic speed of the novel.
Overall, this was an action-packed quest novel with some interesting moral and magical aspects. I would recommend this novel to anyone who wants a quick fantasy read, but not if you are mainly after a heart-wrenching romance.
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