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The Ever Cruel Kingdom

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After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice. To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyon After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice. To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyond the seven gates of the underworld, within the Cruel Kingdom itself. The shadows of the underworld may hunger to tear them apart, but these two sisters are determined to heal their world—together.


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After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice. To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyon After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice. To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyond the seven gates of the underworld, within the Cruel Kingdom itself. The shadows of the underworld may hunger to tear them apart, but these two sisters are determined to heal their world—together.

30 review for The Ever Cruel Kingdom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked)

    Is there a support group after reading this? I think I need one. I fucking LOVED THIS. I'm curious if there's ever going to be a spin-off series, because I can see a lot of potential for one! Is there a support group after reading this? I think I need one. I fucking LOVED THIS. I'm curious if there's ever going to be a spin-off series, because I can see a lot of potential for one!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shealea

    No one touch me. I’m not okay. Full review to follow.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ♡ jules ♡

    Rin Chupeco did it again, y'all! Rin Chupeco did it again, y'all!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    More of a 4.5 but I’m rounding up. The Never Tilting World was a very unique kind of fantasy world that I read last year and really enjoyed, so I was very much looking forward to this sequel/finale. I was so glad to find the audiobook and I’m happy that this one turned out to be equally wonderful to listen to. The first thing I noticed about this book was that it felt much more fast paced than its predecessor. Once I started, I really flew through it and the multiple narrators also made it a ver More of a 4.5 but I’m rounding up. The Never Tilting World was a very unique kind of fantasy world that I read last year and really enjoyed, so I was very much looking forward to this sequel/finale. I was so glad to find the audiobook and I’m happy that this one turned out to be equally wonderful to listen to. The first thing I noticed about this book was that it felt much more fast paced than its predecessor. Once I started, I really flew through it and the multiple narrators also made it a very enjoyable experience. The writing was very crisp too, with wonderful descriptions of the changing landscape due to the turning of the world, as well as the gruesomeness of the monsters whom the characters have to constantly fight. The fight sequences where every person with a power got to show their abilities were written excellently and despite multiple such scenes, each of them felt different in its own way. There weren’t many plot twists this time, and I loved that most of the story involved multiple groups of people who completely distrust or hate each other having to work together for the sake of the greater good. There was also a lot of analyzing clues from poems involved, which is always a cool concept and kinda fun. It was actually nice to finally see all the characters come together in this one. Odessa and Haidee share an instant connection as soon as they meet, and I completely adored their absolute love and trust in each other. Despite dangerous circumstances and the possibility of them having to make sacrifices, they don’t shy away from wanting to be better than their mothers to resolve the issues with their world, and it was highly admirable. Lan and Arjun similarly turned out to be great partners, always supportive of the sisters but also bringing them back from the brink when something disastrous happened. I also liked that both of them formed their own kind of bond, owing to the similarities of their situations. We finally get to know more of the backstory of Asteria and Latona, and how the Breaking happened and while it was easy to hate them in the first book, getting to know them better definitely elicited more sympathy from me. It’s a great story of how misunderstandings and maybe even jealousy can cause rifts between two people who love each other very much, and I was impressed with the contrast that the author was able to show between the relationships of the mothers vs that of their daughters. There were also many other side characters who got good arcs, and I particularly enjoyed the banter between Vanya and Lisette, and also loved seeing Sonfei back. I still remember the author mentioning in their note in the first book that they decided to create this world which is always waylaid by natural disasters because Philippines is always suffering from the drastic effects of climate change, and Rin wanted to bring that helplessness that the residents have to deal with to life in this series. And expanding on that, they show us in this finale how those in power exploit the world’s natural resources, but when they realize that their actions are destroying the world itself, they decide to take an easy way out and sacrifice young women instead of doing the actual work to create more sustainable practices. This felt so much like what corporations and politicians are doing in our life, asking normal people to make everyday life changes instead of taking more substantial impactful measures at a larger scale. In the end, this was a very fitting end to the story with everyone having to make their own kind of sacrifices to create a better world, and I think that’s a lesson everyone can remember. If you are interested in a fantasy which explores interesting familial relationships as well as a fascinating world which is an allegory to the ravages of climate change, then this is perfect for you. It is thought provoking as well as exciting, sometimes desperate but always with a light at the end of the tunnel - and so full of love.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I'm glad I finished this duology but even though I rated the first book 4 stars, this series is more of a 3 stars for me. I still believe the best parts were the characters and romance. In this one, I was hoping that I would understand the world/plot better but I was still a little unclear of what was going on and why sometimes. However, I really liked the ending as it wasn't perfect for the characters but they did the best that they could. I'm glad I finished this duology but even though I rated the first book 4 stars, this series is more of a 3 stars for me. I still believe the best parts were the characters and romance. In this one, I was hoping that I would understand the world/plot better but I was still a little unclear of what was going on and why sometimes. However, I really liked the ending as it wasn't perfect for the characters but they did the best that they could.

  6. 4 out of 5

    rain

    IM SO SAD THAT THIS IS ONLY A DUOLOGY BECAUSE IM GOING TO MISS THE WORLD AND THE CHARACTERS SO MUCH 😭 once again rin chupeco shows their prowess with world-building in this duology. i also appreciate the climate change commentary so much. im proud of how the characters here worked through their problems together plus i especially love odessa and heidi's sibling bond. i also enjoyed arjun and lan's interactions here!!! they're so whipped for the twins and it was so adorable watching them protect h IM SO SAD THAT THIS IS ONLY A DUOLOGY BECAUSE IM GOING TO MISS THE WORLD AND THE CHARACTERS SO MUCH 😭 once again rin chupeco shows their prowess with world-building in this duology. i also appreciate the climate change commentary so much. im proud of how the characters here worked through their problems together plus i especially love odessa and heidi's sibling bond. i also enjoyed arjun and lan's interactions here!!! they're so whipped for the twins and it was so adorable watching them protect heidi and odessa while also giving them a lot of space to grow and learn their strengths together. once again im sad that this duology has come to an end but rin chupeco tied things up nicely so i was still satisfied by the end of it. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SERIES FOR LOVERS OF FANTASY!

  7. 5 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    what do u MEAN i have to wait almost a whole year!!!!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    "A half-life is better than no life at all." "There is always another choice. Because if you weren’t given a choice that you could live with, then you had to decide on the choice they would never allow you to make.” 4 stars. Rin Chupeco does it again with The Ever Cruel Kingdom: Chupeco delivers a solid finale to a duology that is wholly unique and compelling all at once. Here's the thing: y'all are sleeping on this duology so hard. It's always a shock to me when I think about the fact that th "A half-life is better than no life at all." "There is always another choice. Because if you weren’t given a choice that you could live with, then you had to decide on the choice they would never allow you to make.” 4 stars. Rin Chupeco does it again with The Ever Cruel Kingdom: Chupeco delivers a solid finale to a duology that is wholly unique and compelling all at once. Here's the thing: y'all are sleeping on this duology so hard. It's always a shock to me when I think about the fact that these books aren't more popular, especially considering how much they offer a reader of not just YA fantasy, but fantasy in general. These books contain multi-layered magic systems, intricate character work, and themes of climate change all with characters of diverse backgrounds at the forefront of the story. What's not to love? Speaking of that, Rin Chupeco's prose is among my favorite in YA. In all honesty, the quotes I picked from above do a disservice to the skill displayed in their writing. Chupeco strikes that balance between dark and poetic that I love reading, particularly with anything in fantasy. I find that in the world of Aeon that this book is set in, this type of writing shines. There's something about it that so wholly befits the aesthetic: a world with as much natural beauty as monsters carrying lapis lazuli, the way Chupeco employs their prose to properly display this unique world in all of its breathtaking gorgeousness and its rotten ugliness is worthy of applause. Especially with Aeon's aesthetic of a world split in two wholly different climates, it takes an incredibly skilled writer to properly depict and explore it. Overall, I love Chupeco's writing so this was no surprise. Character work. This is a character driven story, so its no surprise that the character work remains top-notch. Chupeco, as in last book, is able to effectively juggle four first person perspectives with their own character arcs and unique voices within a 400 page conclusion that not only develops upon already existing elements, but brings in new ones to add further nuance to the story. Haidee, Odessa, Lan, and Arjun are already well-rounded characters by the end of the previous book with their own character arcs but this book tests them in ways that are unexpected and harrowing. To put it succinctly, the character work for all four of them is superb. By the end of the novel, the four of them have developed in ways that are subtle and ways that are incredibly obvious. Now for the actual spoiler-filled plot elements. One of the things I loved about this conclusion is the inclusion of new characters, including (view spoiler)[Arjun's ex as well as the boy Haidee was bethrothed to while living with Latona in the Golden City. The way Chupeco wrote these characters was a breath of fresh air, as they are very much subversions of the expectations readers have for what impact these characters will have on the already established dynamics within the story. Arjun's ex is her own independent character and firmly does not exist just to be an obstacle between Haidee and Arjun; in fact, she takes a liking to Haidee and is able to remain platonic friends with Arjun. As for Haidee's former betrothed, I'm a hundred percent a sucker for rich kids out of their element but I also liked how he contributed to the story intellectually and didn't go down the obvious route of being a spy for his father, going to the extent of shooting his own father! Truly iconic behavior. (hide spoiler)] Another thing which I saw coming but really enjoyed thematically was (view spoiler)[the moms of each of the sisters deciding to sacrifice themselves for their daughters. I saw it coming the moment one of them started talking about becoming a big family together, but it worked on a thematic level that I can't help but give it a pass. (hide spoiler)] Finally, I absolutely loved (view spoiler)[the bittersweet nature of the ending. (hide spoiler)] The fact that the sisters have to split their time as watchers of the Ever Cruel Kingdom below and the Aeon above ensures that the ending isn't all happy ending but remains thematically resonant without killing off one of the MC's for shock value and cheap emotional distress. Conclusively, all of you. Stop sleeping on this duology. And Rin Chupeco in general. They are an absolute treasure to have in the YA fantasy genre and I will advocate for their books as much as I can, especially as a fellow Filipino. Go pick this duology and their books, I promise you will not regret it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    dezzy

    3 stars. Ahhhh I actually feel so conflicted about this book :') I'm feeling so many emotions yet nothing (+ confusion) at the same time lolol Okay firstly, I definitely enjoyed the characters + character development, as well as all the complex relationships in this book. All of the characters were all so well-developed and messy and HUMAN and you can't help but love them for it <3 I could really feel the unconditional love the characters have for each other 😭 I appreciated the nuance and consider 3 stars. Ahhhh I actually feel so conflicted about this book :') I'm feeling so many emotions yet nothing (+ confusion) at the same time lolol Okay firstly, I definitely enjoyed the characters + character development, as well as all the complex relationships in this book. All of the characters were all so well-developed and messy and HUMAN and you can't help but love them for it <3 I could really feel the unconditional love the characters have for each other 😭 I appreciated the nuance and consideration that went into showing the true complexity of all sorts of relationships present in this book - mother/daughter, sister, platonic, and romantic. The sisterly relationship between Haidee & Odessa, as well as their mothers, really did hit me hard, especially near the end :') Speaking of characters, though, The Ever Cruel Kingdom was told from 4 POVs and I honestly got SO confused. And I'm not sure why, because the first book (The Never Tilting World) was also told from the same 4 POVs and that wasn't a problem for me then, but in this book, it was a huge issue lmao :') like I genuinely would not know who was narrating the chapter and would have to check the chapter title like 293843 times throughout the course of me reading the chapter lolol 🤧 It got to the point where in a certain scene, I thought I was reading from Odessa's perspective the entire time and then the narrator went to kiss Haidee's love interest and *that* was when I realized it was actually from Haidee's perspective aslkdjflskdj lmao,, the struggle is real. For most of the book, I was also really confused at the storyline, world-building and plot. It might just be due to my lack of brain cells at this point of the year LOL, but I actually could not follow where the plot was going and why the characters were doing certain things to save Aeon or whatever, like I was honestly just skimming through the plot points and reading this book just for the characters oops. (.....yes confusion was definitely one of my more prominent moods while reading this book. i'm pretty sure that's a me problem though, and not entirely the book's fault! i think i'm just not in the best headspace to consume high fantasy rn) Overall, I did enjoy the first book of this duology more! But as for this book, I still love the characters and the way they would do absolutely anything for each other (even though that did break my heart at times). And although I did get really confused at the plot, I'm still in awe at how much thought Rin Chuepco put into developing this book's world and setting - it's truly fascinating and intriguing and I was very captivated by it! I'd definitely recommend this book (& series) for its three-dimensional characters and wonderfully developed relationships :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    Nice ending to the duology. I really enjoyed the world development in these books. It has plenty of details but not overboard and what we learn about the universe unfolds in a realistic way. The history of twin goddesses reminded me a bit of Three Dark Crowns but it was different enough to be it's own thing. Haidee and Odessa connect immediately now that they've found each other and I liked their twin connection of communicating without speaking. They have come from different backgrounds but hav Nice ending to the duology. I really enjoyed the world development in these books. It has plenty of details but not overboard and what we learn about the universe unfolds in a realistic way. The history of twin goddesses reminded me a bit of Three Dark Crowns but it was different enough to be it's own thing. Haidee and Odessa connect immediately now that they've found each other and I liked their twin connection of communicating without speaking. They have come from different backgrounds but have so much in common and I love a good sibling bond. The romance is really sweet in this, we see Odessa and Lan get closer now that Odessa isn't going crazy from power any more. Lan is so protective of Odessa and they build up a cute relationship. Haidee and Arjun are my favorite, their love is so strong and they would literally die for each other. Some parts of the story I was confused about, I struggled to keep the queens straight and I'm still not sure which of them was the birth mom to the twins. I also thought the ending was kind of sad and I must have missed the part the explained why it had to be the way it was. This was entertaining and had some really cool mythology, fun characters, and a fun world.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Azrah

    [This full review can also be found on my BLOG] **I was gifted a copy of this book for a blog tour with Pride Book Tours in exchange for an honest review** CW: trauma, grief, death, self-harm, cannibalism If you love your adventure quest stories, intricate magic systems, puzzling prophecies and sisterhood/found family themes then you should definitely check this series out! The Ever Cruel Kingdom kicks off exactly where the events of The Never Tilting World left off with just as much adventure and h [This full review can also be found on my BLOG] **I was gifted a copy of this book for a blog tour with Pride Book Tours in exchange for an honest review** CW: trauma, grief, death, self-harm, cannibalism If you love your adventure quest stories, intricate magic systems, puzzling prophecies and sisterhood/found family themes then you should definitely check this series out! The Ever Cruel Kingdom kicks off exactly where the events of The Never Tilting World left off with just as much adventure and high stakes – I was hooked until the very end. The sequel definitely has a bigger familial aspect, which I think Chupeco really excels at in their books. The sisterhood between Haidee and Odessa was beautifully written – I loved their moments together in the story so much. Though their individual personalities continued to shine through just as much as their bond! The various other relationships within the story – both romantic and platonic – were fantastic too and I loved how the direction of the story allowed them all to be explored. The captivating world building and element based magic system were both expanded further in this sequel, the latter particularly when it came to the fight/battle scenes which were amazing! I also personally love it when fantasy books have moments where science and magic work together so I absolutely loved it when Haidee’s mechanika side came out! I will admit that I enjoyed this one a little less than book 1 and have knocked off half a star because though I enjoyed the individuality of the 4 person PoV, with the characters all being in one place for the most part of the book it did feel a little overcrowded at times. Also prophecy stories can be a little tricky and some parts of the book felt a little rushed however, the overall plot and reveals allowed the story to wrap up perfectly. A big thing that needs to be commended about this series though are the commentary on climate change as well the discussions and representation of mental health/grief and trauma. It’s a story as emotionally packed as it is action packed and I can’t recommend it enough. Final Rating - 3.5/5 Stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rajasree Jayaram

    I'm glad this is a duology because I don't have the stamina for longer series anymore. Excellent worldbuilding, diverse and three-dimensional characters, interesting mythology except for one fact (view spoiler)[before Inanna descended into the Cruel Kingdom on that ill-fated trip, who was running things down there? I don't see any real need for a steward, but maybe it is required and she just hadn't figured out that part yet (hide spoiler)] . I was a little surprised to find that the story's unde I'm glad this is a duology because I don't have the stamina for longer series anymore. Excellent worldbuilding, diverse and three-dimensional characters, interesting mythology except for one fact (view spoiler)[before Inanna descended into the Cruel Kingdom on that ill-fated trip, who was running things down there? I don't see any real need for a steward, but maybe it is required and she just hadn't figured out that part yet (hide spoiler)] . I was a little surprised to find that the story's underlying message is environmental conservation. I was worried about the prophecy that said Arjun had to die, but I liked how that was handled. Shout out to those amazing covers - such a treat, I would buy hard copies for the sole pleasure of gazing at that art. An excellent duology, and recommeded for all YA fantasy lovers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    holy crap

  14. 5 out of 5

    G Daniels

    I loved the The Never Tilting World duology by Rin Chupeco. This is not unusual since I am a big fan of Ms. Chupeco. Before I tell you about this duology, let us first review the rules: Rule #1: No telling them they have an ugly baby. The writer put themselves into the story; they put a lot of work into it and truly believe in it and its merits. Who am I to tell them they created an ugly baby? So even if I am disappointed in it, I will not be cruel and a hater, but will be honest without being m I loved the The Never Tilting World duology by Rin Chupeco. This is not unusual since I am a big fan of Ms. Chupeco. Before I tell you about this duology, let us first review the rules: Rule #1: No telling them they have an ugly baby. The writer put themselves into the story; they put a lot of work into it and truly believe in it and its merits. Who am I to tell them they created an ugly baby? So even if I am disappointed in it, I will not be cruel and a hater, but will be honest without being mean. On the reverse side, it has to be REALLY AWESOME to earn a 5-star rating. Don’t want to cheapen the rating system by giving out too many 5-star ratings; they have to be earned by golly! Rule #2: No spoilers! You would not want me in a theater telling you what was going to happen next or expose a pivotal point before you get to experience it for yourself, so why would it be okay to tell you an important part of the story and ruin it for you? Not cool and won't happen. Rule #3: If it is a series, I will review the entire series instead of each individual book. I may state that one book or part of the story arc is better than another, or that it started off slow and picked up or the reverse, but will review the whole instead of each separate part. This is partly due to my own laziness, but also to provide my opinion on the entire story. Using the movie metaphor again, you wouldn't review half a movie and then come back and review the second half separately, that would be silly. I will review the entire story, regardless if it is a duology, trilogy, or more. Rule #4: and most importantly, take my review with a grain of salt. Read the story for yourself and make your own decisions. I am only giving my opinion and I may not be as impressed with it as you or you may think I am totally out of my mind and wonder if I read the same story as you. You always have the right to ignore what I write or disagree with me. Intro: My unabashed bias towards Ms. Chupeco I will admit right up front I am a huge fan of Ms. Chupeco. I would not only read her grocery list if she published it, but would pre-order it and count the days until it was released. She is one of my favorite contemporary writers along with Bracken, Garber, Blake and White to name a few. But even with that confession, I will do my best to be objective in my review. The Premise: The story is about a pair of twin goddesses, Haidee and Odessa who must save their planet Aeon after it has quit spinning causing one side of the planet to be in perpetual darkness and cold where the other half is in eternal light and heat. In each generation there is a set of twin goddesses born, one grows up to rule over the land where the other is sacrificed. Approximately seventeen years prior, the mothers of the twins, Litonia and Asteria, twin goddesses themselves, made a mistake during the ritual and the world stopped spinning and a great abyss was created splitting the world in two, one side in eternal darkness and cold, the other in constant light and heat. Haidee grew up on the light side along with her mother Litonia, where Odessa lived on the dark side with her mother Asteria. Neither twin knew the other existed and thought their aunt had been the one to perish in the Great Abyss during the ritual. It is confusing how a set of twins can have separate mothers, even if the mothers were twins themselves, but this is explained in the second book, The Ever Cruel Kingdom. Though I admit it really confounded me in the first book how this was possible, even if they ARE goddesses. When reading this, just be patient and accept it, it is explained eventually and makes sense. In the first book, The Never Tilting World, Haidee and Odessa set off from their respective cities to journey to the Abyss to try to fix the world. Haidee is accompanied on her journey by a desert rat known as Arjun who upon first meeting the goddess desired to kill her, but ultimately joins her on her quest. Odessa is accompanied by her bodyguard/ lover Tianlan, and a group of her mothers’ Devoted and their servants. Devoted are kind of the upper class who possess elemental magical powers or “gates”. Tianlan, or “Lan”, had been to the Abyss prior with her squad of guards but of the half dozen that ventured there, she was the only one to survive and return, leaving her mentally scarred. Keep in mind, Odessa and Haidee, nor anybody in their respective parties is aware the other exists, both sides believe theirs is the only side that sustained life after the great split. So the story describes the journey the two teams make to reach the Abyss and all the trials and hardships they had to overcome including monsters, deception, cannibals and the harsh elements. At the end both sides reach the Abyss and the twins, to their utter amazement, meet. The second book, The Ever Cruel Kingdom picks up where The Never Tilting World Ends with the twins meeting and as they believe, fixing the world again. They all end up back in Haidee’s and Arjun’s stomping grounds. Though the world seems to be turning again and there is once again night and day, there is still something wrong for shadow monsters are surging from the Abyss and attacking. A bunch of the other tribes of desert nomads join Arjun’s tribe to fight off these creatures who keep coming in bigger and bigger waves. Soon Asteria turns up with her Devoted to this area and a new conflict arises due to there not being a whole lot of love lost between Asteria and Litonia. Add to this Haidee and Odessa are not exactly pleased with their respective mothers for not telling them that their aunt and twin were actually still alive and the familial tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife. So there is a lot of conflict in the second book between the different factions not trusting each other, the internal bickering of the Goddesses, (all four of them, mothers and daughters), and trying to figure out how to stop the shadow creatures that are coming from the Abyss in greater and greater numbers. They discover the problem stems from a poor choice the original goddess made affecting her sister which has caused the cycle requiring the sacrifice of one of the twins of goddesses born in each generation. To finally break this cycle and put the world to rights once and for all, the four goddesses along with a hand-picked crew return to the Abyss to correct the original problem. You can figure out on your own how that goes, though it is a fascinating journey from beginning to end, the solution is bittersweet and somewhat familiar. Things to Note: Rin Chupeco, if you are familiar with her work you know, does not follow a simple chronological narrative but chooses different styles to tell the story. In the Bone Witch series for example, she flips back and forth in subsequent chapters from the present to the past telling two distinct, but related, stories. One that is occurring in the present while the other is the past that is the cause of the present situation. To read it with a minimum of confusion, every other chapter should be read; either read all the odd chapters together and then read the even chapters or vica-versa. She aids this process by one sub-story is set in italics while the other sub-story is set in regular type. I only explain this because if you haven’t read the Bone Witch series yet, I highly recommend it but want to warn you how to read it for the best comprehension and appreciation. I only bring this up, not only to shamelessly promote the Bone Witch series, but to illustrate how Ms. Chupeco does not follow regular narratives. In The Never Tilting World series she utilizes POV from the characters, mainly the four major players, Haidee, Odessa, Lan and Arjun to tell the story. Some readers, in their reviews, have commented their displeasure with this style mainly because the POV is identical and lacks individual personality. This is a legitimate complaint in that I found I would sometimes have to flip back and see whose POV was being utilized since they used the first person but I wasn’t always sure who the “I” was. This was especially true in the second book when all four were interacting with each other so there were times where Arjun may be talking to Lan or Odessa may be talking with Arjun, etc. So unless close attention was paid in the title of the chapter, whose POV was being utilized was not always clear. I do not know why Ms. Chupeco chose to utilize POV in this narrative or why she determined to use four separate POV, but there was no distinction between the POV’s and could have been told just as easily as a third person narrative or just two POV’s, say maybe the twins. But this is a minor distraction that can be easily forgiven considering how good the story is. Also, as usual there are numerous characters, even numerous minor characters can play a significant part. Keeping track of who they are and their origins can be confusing. If a name turns up in a second scenario, it may be a good idea to take a note of them for they will probably turn up later in the story and have a significant impact on the story. There are quite a few twists that are unexpected and quite jaw dropping, especially towards the end of the second book. She keeps the story interesting and engaging throughout. Summation: This story appears familiar but still strangely different. It seemed like it should be familiar, like the story is similar to stories that have been related before in mythology, but no, it is unique. It is like having a word at the tip of your tongue, you KNOW what it is, you just can’t recall it. This was a story like that. Progressing through this story it appears that it should be familiar that you feel you are familiar with it until you get into it and you find it is not quite what you remember. There is always a niggling familiarity of the story though it is not the story you remember. The best I can relate it to is the Greek mythology of the rape of Persephone crossed with the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake with a pinch of Dante’s Inferno. There are some minor similarities but this duology is still unique and a mythology of its own, it just felt so familiar all the same. Not to say there were not some surprises and the characters weren’t always what they seemed. Some thought to be allies were enemies, enemies turned out to be allies and those that were thought to be good could actually be evil and those thought to be evil turned out to be true. All I can say is Ms. Chupeco created an excellent modern day mythology here and I would highly recommend it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    TW: self-harm Sister stories will never not be my thing. Picking up immediately after the ending of The Never Tilting World, The Ever Cruel Kingdom introduces us to a world of change. A moment when the world we know is transforming into something terrifying and new. It's up to Haidee and Odessa to fight for their future. Not only a world where they do not lose the ones they love, but one where their worlds will survive. The stakes have never been higher and The Ever Cruel Kingdom is practically n TW: self-harm Sister stories will never not be my thing. Picking up immediately after the ending of The Never Tilting World, The Ever Cruel Kingdom introduces us to a world of change. A moment when the world we know is transforming into something terrifying and new. It's up to Haidee and Odessa to fight for their future. Not only a world where they do not lose the ones they love, but one where their worlds will survive. The stakes have never been higher and The Ever Cruel Kingdom is practically non-stop action. If you thought it couldn't get any more intense, think again. But where Chupeco's books consistently hook me are the characters. I live for the friendship between Lan and Arjun. The ways they share looks like, "OMG can you believe her" and their fierce sense of protection. This multiple POV format allows us to get to know our favorites even better. I've become so invested in them that there were moments that made me tear up and my heart drop. It may just be me, but I also got some series Tomb Raiders, searching for clue, vibes and I was here for it. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Veronica ( moon & coffee. )

    A+ | Wow wow wow Rin Chupeco has done it again! I absolutely adored this book (and the duology). Had it not been for the fact that I have an exam coming up, I would have read this in a day because I could not put it down. It’s that good. Rin is an absolute master at worldbuilding, characters, mythology, and wrapping up a story. This ending was so satisfying. Everything about this just felt like a delicious and satisfying meal at one of my favorite restaurants. I truly hope you guys will consider p A+ | Wow wow wow Rin Chupeco has done it again! I absolutely adored this book (and the duology). Had it not been for the fact that I have an exam coming up, I would have read this in a day because I could not put it down. It’s that good. Rin is an absolute master at worldbuilding, characters, mythology, and wrapping up a story. This ending was so satisfying. Everything about this just felt like a delicious and satisfying meal at one of my favorite restaurants. I truly hope you guys will consider picking up this book and reading it. More to come.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Zatz

    FUCKING PHENOMENAL, that's all I can say. Just like with The Never Tilting World, Rin Chupeco builds an intricate and stunning story, with overwhelming love at its core and plot reveals that are not only surprising but also incredibly personal. They once again weave a story that is full of humour, action and excitement with a storyline that's incredibly unique, and a resolution so distinctly beautifully painful it's almost a trademark of theirs. absolutely in awe of everything this duopoly accom FUCKING PHENOMENAL, that's all I can say. Just like with The Never Tilting World, Rin Chupeco builds an intricate and stunning story, with overwhelming love at its core and plot reveals that are not only surprising but also incredibly personal. They once again weave a story that is full of humour, action and excitement with a storyline that's incredibly unique, and a resolution so distinctly beautifully painful it's almost a trademark of theirs. absolutely in awe of everything this duopoly accomplishes in it's immaculate storytelling, loveable characters and important message of taking care of the only world we have before more people suffer for it - the link to the disasters Rin's home country of the Philippines faces gives this duology an even more personal and heartbreaking touch.

  18. 5 out of 5

    biconique

    i wish i could've enjoyed this more :/ i wish i could've enjoyed this more :/

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda B

    I love this series. I’m going to keep this review short because this is a sequel and I don’t want to spoil much. This book is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World, which follows a set of twins, except neither knows that the other exists. They found one another and tried to undo the Breaking that their mothers caused. The Ever Cruel Kingdom is the events after Haidee and Odessa thought they fixed the Breaking. The world has started turning again, so there are days and nights, rain, and other I love this series. I’m going to keep this review short because this is a sequel and I don’t want to spoil much. This book is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World, which follows a set of twins, except neither knows that the other exists. They found one another and tried to undo the Breaking that their mothers caused. The Ever Cruel Kingdom is the events after Haidee and Odessa thought they fixed the Breaking. The world has started turning again, so there are days and nights, rain, and other things that many have never experienced. This book was basically chaos and I loved it. The Ever Cruel Kingdom was very fast paced. There were many fighting scenes, as well as hastily planned searches to find what is needed to actually fix the Breaking. But there wasn’t a slow moment, aside from a few romantic and sisterly moments that the girls took for themselves. I think the action scenes were so well done. The magical abilities were always well explained when they were using their magic. They were so clearly explained that I could picture Odessa and Haidee using their gates (I’m usually terrible at picturing things from books). I also really appreciated how the characters worked together. There wasn’t anyone that tried to be the hero and take on the more in the fights. The twins worked their magic together and the love interests, Lan and Arjun, work together to fight alongside them. The romances were excellent. Odessa and Lan were so sweet. I loved the female/female romance between them. Lan was the one that could bring Odessa down when she was struggling with her magic. I loved how this was shown by Lan using things she knew about Odessa (like her love for romance novels) to help Odessa come back to herself. To me, this showed how well Lan and Odessa knew each other. Haidee and Arjun were fierier. I loved the passion between them. I think they were a great bit of levity to the story. While there were serious moments between the two, they brought humor and happiness to a tense story. Now, the world. We learn so much more about the Breaking and how it happened. Latona and Asteria play a part in this story too. Haidee and Odessa’s mothers make an appearance and I was riveted by their anger toward one another. Their history was so compelling and opened up the readers knowledge to why the world is the way it is now. We also learn a bit more about the original Goddess that was unknown to most of those that lived in this world. I think Chupeco did a really great job of sharing this information in small bites as it was relevant to the story. Overall, I loved this book and I love this series. I adored the characters. The world building was fascinating. The romances were swoon worthy. I also really enjoyed that the side characters got their own page time too. There were great new friendships, old relationships that were renewed, and relationships we knew from the first book that were further developed and they were all wonderful. I cannot say enough good things about this book. So, stop what you’re doing and go read it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Actual rating: 4.5 I adored this book! I struggled with Odessa's character and POV at certain points but in the end I loved her just as much as at the very beginning. I was VERY STRESSED through some parts of this book but goodness. It ended so well! It really had a good ending compared to some other fantasy duologies I have read. Honestly the duology together is definitely 5 stars for me. I seriously loved these books!  TW full list on my StoryGraph TW: death, grief, suicidal thoughts (sacrifice), Actual rating: 4.5 I adored this book! I struggled with Odessa's character and POV at certain points but in the end I loved her just as much as at the very beginning. I was VERY STRESSED through some parts of this book but goodness. It ended so well! It really had a good ending compared to some other fantasy duologies I have read. Honestly the duology together is definitely 5 stars for me. I seriously loved these books!  TW full list on my StoryGraph TW: death, grief, suicidal thoughts (sacrifice), blood, violence, minor sexual content

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rue

    This duology is such a comfort read. While I don't think it's the most flushed out and intricate world, it's so entertaining and the characters are so loveable. Rin Chupeco writes the most superior romances, they seriously never miss. Overall so enjoyable, and I can't wait for anything Rin Chupeco writes in the future! This duology is such a comfort read. While I don't think it's the most flushed out and intricate world, it's so entertaining and the characters are so loveable. Rin Chupeco writes the most superior romances, they seriously never miss. Overall so enjoyable, and I can't wait for anything Rin Chupeco writes in the future!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Feliz

    OH MY GOD. THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER. I would die for this duology. I am in love. I am happy. It literally has everything I could ever ask for. For now, let me float in my own tears. Full review to follow.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gretal

    Yeah, these books exist in a weird space where I really enjoy everything about them except for the actual act of reading them (as a result of the four first person povs).

  24. 5 out of 5

    liza

    loved this book on so many levels for so many different reasons but confirmed side aro/ace character .... yes please 💜🖤

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anne (ReadEatGameRepeat)

    This is so good - loved this just as much as the first one - cant wait to read more of chupecos writing

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ellie J.

    5/5 stars Recommended for anyone who likes: sci-fi, magic, fantasy, multiple POVs, goddesses, disability representation, mental illness representation, characters of color, LGBTQ+ characters, complex morality, demons, quests This book picks up pretty much exactly where the last one left off, with our main group of heroes being dropped into the desert after making the world turn again. One of my complaints with the last book was that the worldbuilding was there, but wasn't explained as much as I th 5/5 stars Recommended for anyone who likes: sci-fi, magic, fantasy, multiple POVs, goddesses, disability representation, mental illness representation, characters of color, LGBTQ+ characters, complex morality, demons, quests This book picks up pretty much exactly where the last one left off, with our main group of heroes being dropped into the desert after making the world turn again. One of my complaints with the last book was that the worldbuilding was there, but wasn't explained as much as I think it needed to be. In this book, however, the characters are learning alongside the readers, so the worldbuilding is explained a lot more. There's also a scholar-esque character in this one who is helpful for explaining things and in interpreting the prophecies. I think the mythology is fleshed out way more in this one, going back further to Inanna, the OG goddess. The theme of duality that was so strong in the first book is still present in this one, though to a more subtle extent. I still found myself really enjoying how Chupeco played off ideas of darkness vs light, life vs death, etc., and how each must be balanced. This one was less light than the other one, I will say that, and each of the characters faces some pretty rough roads. I really enjoyed the plot of this book and how they went through discovering why things in their world were the way they were pre-Breaking and how they can repair the world without returning to that. Surprisingly (unsurprisingly?), the book ended up preaching a very environmentalist message, strongly enforcing the idea that people within the world need to take care of their environment and not pollute the air and the seas lest they end up ruining the only world they have without recourse. I think it's very easy to get preachy when you're putting morality messages into books, but Chupeco does an excellent job of weaving it into the storyline and having it make sense for what happened pre-book, what's happened/ing in the books, and what they're trying to solve within the book. The message is definitely obvious, but it makes sense, which is the important part. I thought the juxtaposition of 'doing what's easy and relatively safe' and 'doing what's best but harder/more dangerous' was an interesting one to put in the book and fits along really well with 1) the environmentalist message, 2) the theme of duality found throughout both books, and 3) the history of the world pre-Brekaing, the struggles of Asteria and Latona that led to the Breaking, and the struggles Odessa and Haidee face throughout the book. The main theme of this book, while still dealing with ideas of duality, seemed to focus more on the bonds between sisters and how others can manipulate those bonds and that trust to get what they want. The 'what's best' vs. 'what's safest/easiest' also played a really big role and could potentially be considered its own theme, but I think it plays really heavily into the 'sisterly bonds and outside manipulation' theme, so I'm counting it as a subtheme. Arjun was the first narrator in this one, and he remains the funniest person in the book. While in the first book I was somewhat under the impression that Arjun went along with everything more so that everything could work out for Haidee, it becomes more apparent in this book that he's really just that 'go with the flow.' About everything. It's nice to see a character, especially in this duology, who is okay with taking at least somewhat of a backseat and acknowledges (if not overtly) that while he's a main character he isn't The Main Character. I liked how he instantly included Odessa and Lan in his circle of people he was concerned with after he saw how much Odessa meant to Haidee and, as an extension, how much Lan meant to Odessa. I also enjoyed Arjun and Lan's relationship in this one, which seemed to largely consist of 'we're in love with idiots' and 'area wo/man in awe of her/his amazing wife.' Out of everyone, I think Arjun gets dealt the shittiest hand in this book, pun unintended, though he deals with it relatively well. Lan comes next, and is still dealing with the trauma of what happened to her rangers pre-Never Tilting World. We actually get to see her open up a little more about it in this book when she shares her story with someone who's grieving. She remains a protector throughout this book and, like Arjun, brings Haidee and Arjun into her sphere of concern when she sees how much Odessa loves Haidee already. She does a lot less healing in this book and more fighting, and it was nice to see the promises of her being a warrior come to fruition a little more in book 2. I thought her reaction to being in the desert was super amusing and can relate to her disdain and discomfort of the unrelenting heat. I also liked that Chupeco showed how uncomfortable Lan was not knowing information about the territory and people she was around, since Lan is used to being someone who knows relatively what she's walking into, and that lack of information puts her at a disadvantage, in her opinion, when it comes to protecting Odessa. Speaking of Odessa, she is so much more likeable in this book than the last one. After she rejected the galla's gifts at the end of Never Tilting Planet, she really comes back into herself and becomes the girl she was at the beginning of that book, and that's who we get through the majority of this one. Of course, rejecting the gifts doesn't mean that 1) they're gone and 2) that the side-effects are gone. So, while Odessa is back to being herself, some of that underlying cunning and cruelty remains and creates a new kind of complexity for her character now that she is aware of what she's doing and horrified by how she acted when under the galla's influence. For some reason, I don't mind her moments of weepiness in this one as much as I did in the first one, though it was somewhat annoying when she compared herself to Haidee, though I know from psychology that that's the kind of trick self-esteem issues can play on someone. I thought it was a nice touch that thinking about the plots and characters from her favorite books helps ground her away from the galla's influence. Overall, I like Odessa much more in this one than the last one and enjoyed reading her character grow and mature. Along those same lines, Lan and Odessa's relationship had none of the imbalance power dynamics that it did in the first book, making it, in my opinion, a better romance all around. After going through everything in the first book, they obviously aren't exactly the same people, but their romance returns to that loving place that it was at the beginning of the first book, but strengthened by everything they've gone through. They want to protect one another in a much more healthy sense, and Lan no longer feels like she's stuck between that space of 'girlfriend' and 'bodyguard.' Each girl got a chance to play protector and guardian over the course of the book, and without the galla's darkness corrupting Odessa, they got a lot more time to be soft with one another. So, much like I think Odessa improved from the first book, I also definitely think LanxOdessa improved in this sequel as well. Haidee is the last narrator and, like the others, is changed by what happened in the first book. For one, while she's still optimistic, she's no longer the happy-go-lucky girl she was in the first book. Seeing the Abyss and meeting the galla really seemed to snap things into perspective, and while she still sees the bright side of things and believes that she and Odessa will triumph, she also doesn't jump into things quite as quickly and unthinkingly as she did in the first book. Things also definitely do not work out for Haidee in this book like they do in the last book, which felt far more realistic and helped eliminate that deus ex machina feeling I got about her in the first book. Much like with Arjun, I feel rather bad for Haidee in this book, since she kind of gets blow after blow, but I suppose it is their turn after having Lan and Odessa face most of the bad stuff in Never Tilting Planet. I think one of the hard things for her, too, was that Asteria, I believe, wanted to listen and reconnect with Odessa, but Latona didn't seem to want to do the same with Haidee, preferring to wish away the turning of the world and all the changes it brought. Obviously, for someone who has fought and continues to fight so hard to change the world and make things better, Latona's dismissal is rather upsetting. Like in the last book, Arjun and Haidee have a good relationship. In my first review I mentioned how it felt like 'insta-love,' which I didn't like, but I reread the first book and it actually seems like it took more than a month (?), still not a long period of time, but, much like Odessa and Lan's relationship, Arjun and Haidee's felt more balanced and less 'insta' in this one. You can tell they both adore one another, and I liked the scenes we get with Haidee and Arjun's brothers and sisters, since you can tell she's delighted to meet them and seems to fit right in. It's also pretty obvious that Arjun loves and trusts Haidee, no matter how much he 'complains' that she gets herself into crazy situations. Like before, he's willing to follow her to the ends of the earth (or hell) and back. Odessa and Haidee have led very different lives, but they click together from day 1 like they've never been separate. They're easily able to mesh together, share ideas and secrets, and understand one another in a way that I suppose only goddess twins can. It was an instant connection, but it worked within the magic system of the book and I didn't really have any moments where I felt like their relationship was too easy or too simple. They both care for one another and, by extension, care for the people each other cares for, though Odessa does form an early friendship with Arjun and Haidee with Lan. While there is some insta-sister-love going on with them, they aren't without their disagreements, some of which come relatively early on. It's really interesting to see the replay of history in Odessa and Haidee's relationship vs Asteria and Latona's relationship, which we also see more of in this one. Both sets of twins grew up apart before meeting, then faced challenges that sought to split them apart. I think part of this reflection comes from that theme of duality: one set of twins caused the Breaking and stopped the world from turning, the other started the world and seeks to mend the Breaking. It was seemingly a misunderstanding that split Asteria and Latona, and there are a number of conflicts that have the potential to do the same for Haidee and Odessa, one of which is actually almost exactly the same situation that caused the major rift between their mothers. Reading their relationship was super interesting, since we get to see so clearly that love between them, but they aren't without their faults. We see more of Asteria and Latona in this one, as mentioned, and we even get a chapter from their perspective(s). I would absolutely love to see a prequel from their perspectives, though I don't know if I want to read their relationship fall apart. (view spoiler)[ Their rift really does seem to be one giant misunderstanding fostered further by the Devoted and a rather unfortunate accident. Each had a seeming inability to grieve for the other and move on, hence the animosity that continues into this book. While I think they take a stupidly long time to figure out the right course of action, with Latona taking slightly longer than Asteria, I am glad they figured themselves out and are able to reconcile. I love their relationship once they get their shit together and it's so painful to see what might've been...or, at least, what might've been if a sacrifice hadn't been required. (view spoiler)[Even more painful is their ending, though I know that at least they agreed on it and did it together. (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] Noelle is a returning character from the first book, and I enjoyed seeing more of her; I wouldn't mind a sequel from her POV. She was funny in the first one, and I thought she played well off of Lan's more serious and less studious nature, and provided a bit of a calming influence on both Lan and Odessa. She continues to be that character in this book, extending her composure to Haidee and Arjun as well. We get to see a bit more of her studiousness in this book, and she tends to use logic and facts to calm herself in high tension situations. She's also confirmed aro/ace in this book. Vanya is also a returning character, though he plays a larger role in this one than he did the first one. While he gets offended rather easily (like, really? You're offended by Arjun telling you you're being a coward for not standing up to dear old dad?), I grew to like his character and am glad he was able to overcome some of his nerves and get his shit together. Sonfei also comes back in this one and we get to see a lot more of him, including an interaction with him and Lan and him and Asteria. Lisette is a new character who was mentioned in the previous book as Arjun's ex-lover. Despite greeting him with a rather large kiss on the lips, she and Haidee get along extremely well and she jumps right on the 'saving the world' bandwagon they've got going on. She's canonically bi and flirts with both Haidee and Odessa, though that seems to be more for the novelty of a goddess and an admiration of the two of them more than a desire to actually have a relationship with either girl, especially considering she ends up in a different relationship during the course of the book. Nevertheless, it leads to some funny reactions from Arjun and Lan. Lisette's a badass and she is (again) another character I'd like to see a sequel of. Or a prequel. Any Lisette-based book would be good in my opinion. There are some moments when she says some biting things to people, then is prompted to apologize, which I get, for the most part, but there was one interaction between Lisette and Vanya that I was kind of like 'really? You're going to ask her to apologize in this situation? Really?' The ending for the book worked well, especially since I was kind of worried it was going to be a 'almost everyone died' situation. It was not, thankfully. Chupeco did an excellent job of bringing around the themes of the two novels into the solution and ending of the novel/series. It really is a story of love and loss and redemption and balance, and that becomes really obvious in the last several chapters of the novel, when it really does come down to the love and trust between the twins and what, or who, exactly they are willing to give up. I'm waxing poetic about it a little, but it was a really good ending for the story and a really good ending in general.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Valentine

    THIS is my special series. The one that, every time I see it on my shelf, makes me dip a little bit more into insanity. Honestly, I wish I could put into words what I feel about this fantastic book and series, but it's almost impossible. All you need to know is that it's flawless - literally. The story is perfectly balanced between the the two books, neither of them feels too heavy or light compared to the other. The world-building is absolutely genius: it's vivid and striking, and it feels r THIS is my special series. The one that, every time I see it on my shelf, makes me dip a little bit more into insanity. Honestly, I wish I could put into words what I feel about this fantastic book and series, but it's almost impossible. All you need to know is that it's flawless - literally. The story is perfectly balanced between the the two books, neither of them feels too heavy or light compared to the other. The world-building is absolutely genius: it's vivid and striking, and it feels real. I particularly loved the Mad Max-esque atmosphere of the desert in this one, that and the absolutely breathtaking magical system in it had me on the floor once again. The characters are still absolutely iconic: I usually struggle to connect with people in books, but there! I loved them all so dearly, even the side characters, because the author managed to make them all incredibly multidimensional and interesting (and I can only bow down in front of the beautiful diversity of the cast of characters.) Even the romance was gorgeous: I usually DESPISE any kind of romantic subplot because it often is 1) really forced and 2) completely ruins the rest of the story. But once again, this series took everything I knew and turned it upside down: I love Arjun and Haidee's relationship, it's fun and teasing but with a touch of shyness and an even bigger one of adoration; I absolutely ADORE Odessa and Lan's one, it's literally two of my favorite characters ever and their relationship is extremely special and sweet and agonizingly beautiful and aaah - I just can't. I also really appreciated how the author encompassed everything that usually comes with a relationship: what I mean is that, it's cute and tender, but it's also hardships and pain and doubt. More than that, I think it is the first time I see such healthy depiction of physical attraction and desire: it felt like a true breath of fresh air to see characters having real chemistry and act upon it, without the extremely uncomfortable and often problematic "sexy" scenes that usually come with YA - it just felt flawless, once AGAIN. I'm absoutely devastated this is a duology, I would have read many more stories about those beloved characters - but that ending felt right. Now, don't get me wrong, I was broken. I was HOWLING, I was half-dying, and I still am hurting at the thought of it. (view spoiler)[Lan calling Odessa mY wIFe??!! (hide spoiler)] But it was perfect. It was emotional and clever, and it just felt like the right way to wrap it all up, in a respectful, and definitely progressive and feminist way. In general, my experience with this book was an endless series of my doubting of where the story was going to go, and then the book immediately proceeding to go in the direction I hoped it would take. This isn't even a coherent, well-shaped review, just me babbling like a fool, but truly - if you need a really strong, beautiful fantasy with excellent writing and even better characters and relationships, just PICK.IT.UP. This comes from someone who is constantly in a reading slump, who usually never begins and even less continues series, who often hates romance, and isn't even a big fan of "high" fantasy. I adored it, I just had no other choice - it was like destiny.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sollie

    3.5 stars. I liked the resolution, the last 80 pages were 4-star-worthy, but the rest did not resonate with me much. Whenever I read Lord of the Rings, I skip the songs and poems. My brain just doesn't care to cope above "oh ok that was neat and clever" but then I've got to move on to the interesting stuff. I'm not good at memorizing words without context, and the first 60 % of this book was DEPENDENT on cryptic rhymes. Even the characters were frustrated, but that didn't help me much. It takes a 3.5 stars. I liked the resolution, the last 80 pages were 4-star-worthy, but the rest did not resonate with me much. Whenever I read Lord of the Rings, I skip the songs and poems. My brain just doesn't care to cope above "oh ok that was neat and clever" but then I've got to move on to the interesting stuff. I'm not good at memorizing words without context, and the first 60 % of this book was DEPENDENT on cryptic rhymes. Even the characters were frustrated, but that didn't help me much. It takes a lot of work to make the prophecies come true in clever ways without being predictable, so kudos to that (although I predicted most, plot armor is a thing) but I mostly just felt bored. I love ensemble casts! They're fun. Especially when they come together. But unfortunately, the POVs started to blend together and repeat themselves in the sense that, for example, Haidee thinks that Lan is thinking one thing, in the next chapter Lan is thinking the thing, then in another chapter along the line they're doing the thing. Whenever there was an "I" in these POVs, I mostly forgot who that referred to, and I didn't care to know. I sometimes forgot that this book was written in the first person to begin with, and had to go "wait a second" whenever the POV-character referred to themselves. In conclusion, the POV-shifts felt purposeless. Something I loved was the take on mental health, healing from trauma, all that - it is rarely seen or discussed or addressed in published works in such a gentle and sympathetic manner, so I think that's nice. There were tons of characters in the supportive cast. It got confusing after a while. With four protagonists and each of them having like 10 named supportive characters adjacent to their thoughts, things got messy. It wasn't an unsalvageble mess, worked for the most part, but it was messy. *spoiler section* The conclusion was lovely, no doubt. I liked the theme of defeating betrayal by healing and forgiveness, and the final solution was bright and beautiful and I will treasure the final chapters, Odessa referring to Lan as her wife, and the sharing of burdens and hopeful future, especially. I'm not a huge fan of pairing up side-characters just for the sake of it, and that happened here (in an excruciatingly predictable way), flirtatious pan lady hooking a romantically pretty clueless guy by the arm. Cute, I guess, but I saw it coming and didn't care for it. I like how one of the main supportive cast was outspoken about being ace/aro-spec and she didn't get paired up with anyone and was happy anyway, I appreciate that. *end of spoiler section* I honestly think this was written more like a movie. I felt like I was watching one, most of the time, and it would be stronger as a visual medium, I think. It had its strong points and I love seeing queer rep in published works, and I can see why people would love these two books. I hope this series will bring joy. It wasn't my favorite book, but it was fine, and I do recommend it if it seems to be your thing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    *Spoiler free, possible spoilers for The Never Tilting World, 4.75 stars* I've been looking forward to this book since I finished the first one. A world split in two, ruled by two goddesses. One cloaked in eternal darkness, one under eternal light. Four POVs, two twins, and a heck of a journey for every single character. It was a brilliant book and I could not wait to see what the sequel, and conclusion, would have in store. Trigger warnings: self-harm, grief, cannibalism Reviewing sequels is hard *Spoiler free, possible spoilers for The Never Tilting World, 4.75 stars* I've been looking forward to this book since I finished the first one. A world split in two, ruled by two goddesses. One cloaked in eternal darkness, one under eternal light. Four POVs, two twins, and a heck of a journey for every single character. It was a brilliant book and I could not wait to see what the sequel, and conclusion, would have in store. Trigger warnings: self-harm, grief, cannibalism Reviewing sequels is hard. How much do I give away? How do I stay vague, but give enough detail so people know what I'm talking about? Well, I'm going to try! I ended up loving this book just as much as the first one. It's a spectacular duology all around. I will say, that I think I ended up liking the first book better than this one. The first one had a very specific journey in place. The rules of the world were very rigid, so the plot was very rigid as well. But, this is the sequel. Everything has been blown open. Worlds are now turning and colliding. Characters are coming together. And at the same time all that is happening, a conclusion is fast approaching. It made the book seem more open, and while I know that's such a weird way of describing it, it just didn't fully click into place for me. Though, that does not mean it was completely bad! I really did enjoy most of the plot, it just felt like everything was so expansive, but there was only so much book to explore it in. Alright, let's move on to characters, because I love all these dorks so, so much. Arjun, Haidee, Odessa, and Lan all have POVs again and they are all just as wonderful as they were in the first book. I loved seeing the romantic relationships blossom, and I loved seeing the new friendships blossom as well. I was worried about tension between some of the characters, but I really loved how the emotional turmoil was handled. Honestly, I should have expected that with how well Lan's trauma was handled in the first book. Heavy, painful emotions are not shied away from in these books, and neither are turmoils in relationships. Chupeco certainly knows what they are doing in regards to emotion. The overall concept of these books amazed my in The Never Tilting World and it amazed me in this book two. Seeing how the result of the world turning again is affecting all the characters and their world was incredible. Really, everything about this world was incredible. It's hard to describe it words other than just downright fascinating. Plus, the writing just makes it all the better. Everything seems so vivid, and the horrors, the beauties, and everything that makes this world tick seem so vivid. Overall, I truly did love this book. It ripped my heart out, but it was everything I wanted in a conclusion and a sequel. There is a small part of me that feels like there were small parts that were rushed and maybe could have benefitted from there being more books in this series, but it is just a small part! I wish this book got more attention, because it truly deserves the world.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maranda

    The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World duology.  After a treacherous journey to the Great Abyss, twins Haidee and Odessa thought the worse was over. The world has begun to turn again and they fought the void and lived to tell the tale. But even though the world turns once again the Great Abyss will not be satisfied until a sacrifice has been made and a goddesses blood has been spilled.  Refusing to give in to a tradition of sacrifice that has gone on for The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World duology.  After a treacherous journey to the Great Abyss, twins Haidee and Odessa thought the worse was over. The world has begun to turn again and they fought the void and lived to tell the tale. But even though the world turns once again the Great Abyss will not be satisfied until a sacrifice has been made and a goddesses blood has been spilled.  Refusing to give in to a tradition of sacrifice that has gone on for decades, Haidee and Odessa must search for answers within the Cruel Kingdom, the underworld. But gaining entrance may cost them more than they are willing to give.  Will the twins be able to find the answers they seek before it is too late it or will terror, guilt and anger get in their way?  I often find that duologies work better than trilogies because you don’t get the second book lull that a trilogy often has and I think this is true of The Never Tilting World duology. There was action each step of the way, all while building up to a fairly satisfying ending.  I did listen to this one on Audible and, as happens when listening vs reading, I think there were a few instances where I was preoccupied while listening and missed a free crucial connections. There were a lot of little intricacies between the two books that all go together to “reveal” the ending. Missing these caused a little confusion here and there for me.  So I think I would recommend reading vs listening to this one.  Otherwise, I found this world to be really unique and dynamic and the author did a great job of layering on details throughout the story. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.  That’s all for now!  -M-

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