Spoiler Free Summary: This was the February Book Cover of the Month. I’ve already reviewed the December Book Cover of the Month, which you can find here, and the January Book Cover of the Month, which you can read here. In The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo, Leam Holt has already saved Harbing from destruction, but he begins this story with amnesia and in enemy territory. Trapped between two machinators, Leam is the linch pin for both of their plans. The forces of light work to free Leam, but they want to use him. The forces of darkness want to keep Leam, but they want to use him, too. What will he choose to do if/when his memory returns?
Character: Leam is a strong lead character. His conflict is honest and real. By the end of the book, I was furious on his behalf for the number of things done to him for the sake of either side’s plans. Leam is earnest, and that earnestness is compelling when he’s being trained and encouraged to do awful things. Those issues get expanded upon when he realizes how terrible his actions really are. I’d also like to mention Eloa, who steals the show from my point of view. She spends a good portion of the story trapped, but she not exactly helpless. Her arch hinges on that situation, and it makes me appreciate her. Gideon, the antagonist, also has in interesting story line that I wanted to learn about.
Exposition: I actually could have used a bit more in this sense. This is the second book in a series, and I think reading the second book took away from the story. I grew to like Leam, but a lot of his arc depends on the reader already knowing what’s happened. That made it hard for me to connect, so if any of this book interests you, I’d strongly recommend buying and reading the first before you move on to this story. I’m of the opinion that doing so will limit questions and issues that I had.
Worldbuilding: Despite the fact that I wasn’t really sure who some of these people were and why they mattered, one thing Deyo did do was ease the reader into this world and magic. Where the characters didn’t make much sense early on, the world grew on you, and that made the book a bit easier for me. There were some aspects I wasn’t sure about, but I’m not going to hold the fact that I didn’t read book one against book two.
Dialogue: The dialogue worked, particularly in regards to developing character. A lot of my connection to these characters formed during conversations. Deyo used this technique with pretty much every character. What made it work is the dialogue didn’t feel like a forced infodump. Instead, you learned about the characters’ pasts and their personality through genuine, realistic conversations.
Description: It’s honestly been a while since I read this particular book. I got backed up with reviews and reading, so I’m not sure how fair I’m being to the book in this regard. What I’ll say is I remember the actions the characters took and how they felt about them. I don’t remember much about what any of the characters looked like or what the settings were like. I remember appreciating the detail in the magic system and some of the intense scenes, but the overall description felt a bit vague in terms of the characters.
Overall: This story was enjoyable by itself, but I think people would like it more with the context of the first book. Leam’s story was the most compelling part of the book. His arch is emotional, touching, sad, and tragic. I’ll admit this book wasn’t so good that I’d insist on going back and reading the first, but I’m glad I read it. The magic system is cool, and this plot has a nice little cat and mouse sort of “Spy vs Spy” feel that I really enjoyed.
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