Reaper (Lightbringer #2) by K. D. McEntire follows Wendy as she attempts to save Eddie’s life while navigating the politics of both her powerful Reaper family and the ghosts in the Never. Piotr continues his investigation into his past, knowing that he is one of the oldest ghosts in the Never, but ends up finding answers in an unexpected way when a strange wound threatens to end his existence. Wendy accepts her family’s offer to train her, and while she does learn more about her familial history in the process, she also comes by her own life-threatening injury. Forget trying to save Eddie, and forget trying to save Piotr – in the end, Wendy must save herself!
K. D. McEntire doles out tidbits of information in this by-the-edge-of-your-seat paranormal fantasy, leading the reader galloping along after that carrot of intrigue until the rewarding resolution. Thanks in part due to Wendy’s and Piotr’s less naive perspectives, the reader is treated to a more colorful, complicated afterlife where Walkers aren’t always mindless monsters and Reapers can be down right bad guys. And, Piotr! Get ready for the fan girl squeal! Piotr was such a good guy in book one, and it was mostly his strange not-alive status that sundered his relationship with Wendy at the end. In book two, Piotr learns more about his very distant origins as a Rider, and in his sickened state, we see a darker side of him that can’t be completely written off as physical (metaphysical?) illness. He and Wendy are also privy to glimpses of disturbing, evil creatures who are drawn to Wendy as the Lightbringer. I greatly enjoyed book one, but these developments in Reaper have converted me into a true fan. One who squeals.
The dialogue especially struck a cord with me. Many of the characters suffer from altered mental and physical states throughout the book, and the way it affects their speech gives me shivers. I’d hate to be in a room with a delusional Piotr or on the phone with a dying Wendy. Eddie, too, gets a chance to show his true character when he helps Piotr despite his own weakened state. Others before him have chosen to become Walkers rather than risk fading to nothing, yet Eddie gives freely of himself. Wendy’s family chip in their fair share of awesome dialogue, too, letting you see why Wendy has a hard time deciding who is for her and who is against her. For all she knows, her entire extended family is against her.
I was also happy to see Wendy learn from her mistakes in the first book. Wendy evaluates her situation in a more critical manner as she teachers herself not to take every thing at face value, and there’s plenty of mystery in Reaper for her to drown in. First, she desperately needs information from her newly discovered family, yet she knows that some of them are two-faced. In fact, she learns that her mother had a good reason for teaching her so little about Reaping and her extended family (A+++ for having her hands tied before, you know, she went crazy). Second, even the ancient knowledge of her Reaper family, and the beliefs of the equally ancient Riders, aren’t 100% accurate. What Wendy has learned from both groups simply does not explain every thing in the Never, and there are some pretty big and scary questions left over, including Piotr’s past. Many of these problems remain mysteries at the end of the book, yet Wendy manages to learn enough to help save her own life and set her on a quest for knowledge in Reaper‘s sequel.
Reaper is exactly what a second book should be. Where Lightbringer introduces us to the world of the Never and Wendy’s powers as the Lightbringer, Reaper hugs us like an old friend and then shoves us into the pool with a demented laugh, also like my friends. The demented laugh? Reaper has a cliff-hanger ending that will have you counting down the days until the sequel is released!
Speaking of which, to buy K. D. McEntire’s Lightbringer books, visit her website at kdmcentire.com
Michelle Ristuccia enjoys slowing down time in the middle of the night to read and review speculative fiction, because sleeping offspring are the best motivation. You can find out more about her rabid love of SFF, podcasting, and raising future geeklings at her blog, http://wakingdreamsblog.blogspot.com , or twitter stalk her at http://twitter.com/ mrsmica