by FRANCESCA FLORES
Girls like Aina Solís don't dream of happilly ever afters, they dream of revenge.
In this epic conlclusion, Aina is back, stronger than ever, and she is pissed.
Shadow City pulled me right out of this crazy time we live in and let me hide beneath the weight of Aina's story. Picking up where Diamond City left off, Flores gives readers a glorious adventure while painting an authentic portrait of what it means to be a young woman desperately fighting to leave an abusive past behind her. Determined to save the Dom from people like Kohl, Aina must work with Kohl himself to protect the people she loves. It also lying to those people. Again.
I was fortunate enough to get to interview Francesca Flores last year (pre-Covid...woof), and I can honestly say it makes my heart happy to see readers loving her books as much as I have.
So many of the YA heroines we see are written with a sort of bubble around their thoughts, fears, and feelings; yet, in Aina, readers are invited into her emotional journey in a way I'm sure would make the assassin/rebel-leader very uncomfortable. Writing about abusive relationships is simply not...simple. The way Kohl manipulated day, after day, lie after lie -- No matter how angry Aina is at him, she can't seem to stop herself from loving him (even if the love she feels is one steeped in violence and cruelty).
As Diamond City came to a close, Aina realized that Kohl never really loved her at all, but because of Bautix, Kohl, and who knows what other sordid criminals were hiding in the Stacks, she never had to deal with any of it. Like many of us, Aina responded to the trauma of her past by distracting herself until she didn't have to think about it anymore. Kohl had to die and so did Bautix - end of story. As the author, Flores could have easily left it at that, scripting a long, fierce speach from her protagonist about the past being in the past and the future being all that mattered...but she didn't. She wrote what we all fear. Rather than let Aina stomp over her demons, she made Aina face them.
Shadow City is a beautiful end to Aina's story - In her debut duology, Flores sends a positive message about healing and reclaiming ourselves in the wake of toxic relationships while also building a magical world for us to escape to every once in a while.
Ash Princess, All Out of Pretty, or City of Embers, you will be enthralled by the world Flores has created here.
Violence: Aina is a trained assassin, and as such, there is a decent amount of death in the story. These deaths are not overly gruesome, but do describe wounds/blood loss/weapons used. Emotional/Physical Abuse: Kohl’s behavior toward Aina is nothing short of abusive and may be triggering for readers who have experienced physical and emotional trauma similar to Aina’s.
13+ due to violence