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Thanks to NetGalley and Atom for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

368 Pages

Synopsis: Locked away inside the fortified walls of Oxford’s St Wilfred’s College, surrounded by alchemists sworn to protect them. Taylor and Sasha are safe from the Darkness. For now.

But time is short. In seven days Sacha will turn 18, and the ancient curse that once made him invincible will kill him, unleashing unimaginable demonic horror upon the world.

There is one way to stop it.

Taylor and Sacha must go to where the curse was first cast–the medieval French city of Carcassonne–and face the demons.

The journey will be dangerous. And monsters are waiting for them.

But as Darkness descends on Oxford, their choice is stark. They must face everything that scares them, or lose everything they love.

Now this is a case where the sequel builds upon the the previous book and winds up being even better! Back in December, I gave The Secret Fire only 3.5 stars mainly because I didn’t care for Sacha and Taylor, and I thought the secondary characters needed much more development. Well, The Secret Fire addressed all those issues and was quite enjoyable. Sacha’s smugness and arrogance that irked me so much in the first book is gone here. He’s extremely supportive of Taylor and on more than one occasion, willing puts his life in danger to protect hers. Taylor, who I thought had absolutely zero personality has developed into a sweet, caring girl who has plenty of courage, but continually battles with self-doubt. Partly because of all the action taking place, their romance develops slowly and believably. Taylor is also immersed in her studies as she’s desperately trying to find a way to save Sacha before he turns eighteen. While she’s busy, Sacha is left feeling a bit like a third wheel, which is understandable given the circumstances. He has no powers, so he’s unsure of his place which leads him to be a bit reckless at times. By the first half of the story though, they’re back to working together. They’ve developed into such engaging characters I couldn’t help but cheer them on. Louisa and Alistair who weren’t well-developed in the first book, are the perfect supporting cast in this. You find out so much more about them, especially Louisa whose harsh personality is tempered this time around. Their relationship never takes away from what is happening with Sacha and Taylor. The plot continues from the original storyline and adds a new villain, who’s not really original, yet still manages to be interesting. The story unfolds at a very quick pace and the exciting conclusion leaves little doubt that there will be a third book. I highly recommend The Secret City to teens and fans of YA fantasy. I’m eagerly anticipating the third installment!