Title: A Restless Truth
Author: Freya Marske
Series: The Last Binding #2
Release Date: 8/11/22
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 44
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free ARC copy from Tor via Black Crow PR, and the Audio copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske’s beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light
The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.
What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.
This was a fun one. While it is listed as the second book in the Last Binding series this can easily be read as a standalone as there is only a tiny bit of overlap with book one. It follows a whole cast of new characters with only small referenced to Robin and Edward from book one. It also does have nods back to the previous mystery but also I feel can stand alone as well.
This time we follow Maud Blyth who is the sister of Robin the main Character from book one, but for me this had a much more classic mystery feel. The locked room aspect of being on an ocean liner travelling from America to London was really fun to me. It kept the setting and number of characters tight so this meant that we really got to know a lot about our main pair Maud and Violet. I liked the way the mystery built and played out. There were many well plotted red herrings some really fun hijinks and overall I really liked to outcome.
I also liked the use of magic in this book. With mostly unmagical characters when magic did play into the plot I thought it was done so with real emphasis and purpose. It wasn’t just thrown around or used to solve little problems but instead built into larger more detailed plans to help catch the killer.
I also enjoyed the romance between Maud and Violet. While it did fall foul of a lot of stereotypes which did make me roll my eyes a little, I do think overall we ended up with a nice romantic story. The sex scenes were varied and intimate though did lack a little of the lust and passion that was found in book one. However, I thought the development and outcome of Maud and Violet’s relationship was a lot more measured and realistic. I found it easy to route for them but loved that they were not a perfect instalove couple.
Overall I thought this was a really enjoyable read and cannot wait to read more about this world and what might happen next in the lives of these groups of characters in the next book. I was very fortunate to be gifted both a physical copy but also the audiobook version. The audio narration was a real pleasure to listen to. Narrated by Aysha Kala, the voices of the characters were distinct and it was very clear which character was talking. The pacing of her voice was clear and she really brought the story to life.