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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: October 31st, 2017

320 Pages

Synopsis: It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone, not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The rolling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress. 

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

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After finishing The Diabolic last year which was supposed to be a standalone, I was one of the fans who clamored for a second book. And S.J. Kincaid listened and has made this a trilogy! So, YAY! However, as Shakespeare wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth”, and is that ever the case here for our young lovers, Nemesis and Tyrus. By the time I reached the end of the book I think I went through half a box of Kleenex!

Before I forget, I need to mention, The Empress is not a book you can jump into without having read the previous book. There’s a lot of world-building and complicated politics and technology, so you’ll be completely lost if you try this without being caught up first.

Without giving away any spoilers, in the first book we were introduced to Nemesis, part of a genetically engineered human hybrid race, that thanks to their enhanced DNA, are incredibly strong. Each of them are bonded for life to one person with their sole purpose being to protect them. While fulfilling her duties protecting her charge, who also wound up becoming her friend, Nemesis uncovered a dangerous plot reaching the highest levels at the royal court, and by the end of the book had teamed up with Tyrus, a member of the royal family, previously thought to be mad.

This story picks up basically at the same point where things left off. Nemesis and Tyrus, now in love, want nothing more than to rule and protect their people. Unfortunately, an enemy who holds a deep grudge against Nemesis, as well as harboring political ambitions himself, betrays them and rips the two young lovers apart. There are still many scenes of them together, and despite the flaws each one has, they’re a couple you can’t help but desperately want a happy ending for. Tyrus brings out the more human aspects of Nemesis, and she curbs his more impulsive decisions. They work so well together, which makes what happens to them even more heartbreaking. 

There is even more world-building in this sequel and you get a lot more insight into the politics and religion that is part of this society. Because of this there were a few sections that were a little slower paced, but for the most part I didn’t find this to be a huge problem. The ending is an enormous cliffhanger which seriously has me wondering if and how there will be a happy ending in the final book.

The Empress is an emotional rollercoaster ride that evoked strong emotions in me because of all the heartbreak and betrayal. As horrible as that may sound, it’s proof of how connected I was to the characters. If you haven’t read either of these yet, just be warned that S. J. Kincaid isn’t a sunshine, rainbows, and puppies kind of author. You may want the plot to go in one direction, but be prepared to be disappointed and to have your heart ripped out and stomped on….multiple times! I HIGHLY recommend The Diabolic and The Empress to older teens and adults who love gripping science fiction mixed with sinister political plots, nefarious characters, and heartbreaking romance. I’m both eagerly anticipating and dreading the final book which is due out next year.