“Living in Hollow had taught me to fundamental truths. The first was that history was fickle and could be rewritten and shaped by those in power. The other was that there was always another secret line below the surface, and that’s true for the truth I couldn’t let any mystery concerning the Heartbreaker go and solved”
Having read The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell last year, I was absolutely blown away by how amazing it was. The storytelling aspect was absolutely tantalizing and the world building had so much depth that I just wanted to continue learning more and more about the world of Hollow and its secrets. I was pretty nervous about how the sequel would be and whether it would be as good as the first book, but I can honestly say that it very much surpassed my expectations. This book was everything and more. The intensity that it brought was absolutely crazy. Page after page Michael is thrown into the most unexpected situations and you can’t help but feel for the guy because he’s been through so much.
The sequel takes place soon after the shocking and surprising events of Kingdom of Liars. Michael Kingman, the novels main protagonist, who has also been accused of killing the king in the first book, has managed to avoid execution. However, the gag is, Michael finds himself in the hands of Dark a member of the Orbis Company, a mercenary group. Dark makes Michael his apprentice and essentially Michael’s life is in the hands of Dark. But this doesn’t mean that Michael is off the hook, instead there are many individuals who Michael has pissed off and want to get revenge on him. In particular, Serena who is Michael’s childhood friend and the Queen and the queen in waiting. Serena blames Michael for the death of her father who actually killed himself, but nor Serena or anyone who has a grudge against Michael believes that he didn’t do it. Michael is innocent, but Serena only has one thing on her mind and that is to kill Michael and get revenge for her father’s death.
To make matters even more complicated, upon being given the job to handle refugees who are pouring into Hollow, a formidable serial killer makes a return to Hollow. The serial killer is known as the Heartbreaker who snatches the heart out of the victims chest. Thus, Michael and Dark must capture the serial killer before he kills even more people and increases his reign of Terror upon the people of Hollow. During the investigation, it is discovered that people such as Dark, Naomi, and others have dealt with the Heartbreaker in the past. On top of that, Michael must continue to prove his innocence to Serena and remove the stain from the Kingman name.
It’s difficult to know where to start with this book because this book in my eyes was a masterpiece. But I guess the first thing I will talk about is the characters. The character of Michael has very much changed from the first book. I fell in the first book he was very brash and immature. However, in the sequel, he has very much changed into I’m more likeable character as he has matured quite a bit and has slowly learned from his mistakes. We also learn more about Michael’s memory degrading as a result of his powers and things that were done to him in order to make and forget key things in his life. I felt really bad for Michael this time around and I think the guy deserves a break after all he’s been through. There are many who think Michael is an arsehole who should be killed, but I quickly realized that Michael isn’t actually the problem, there are many people within Hollow who have done much worse than him and are extremely evil people.
I also really loved the dynamic between Michael and Dark working together in order to capture The Heartbreaker series killer and uncover who he is. As a result of this, we get a deeper insight into Dark, the person he is, how he became that person, and how the Heartbreaker serial killer and Dark crossed paths previously. It was really sad learning about Darks past, his father’s cruelty, and his lost love Zahra. Because Dark is scary as hell learning these aspects made him seem more human. Dark appears to be a closed book but Nick Martell really allows you to get inside Dark’s mind giving you a better understanding of who he is and what he is fighting for.
The back and forth between the character of Serena and Michael was also tantalizing. The tension between them was always at boiling point and you couldn’t help but worry for Michael. However, I do wish we could have seen from the point of view of Serena. Given that the title of the book is The Two Faced Queen, I expected the narration of the story to consist of both Michael’s POV and Serena’s POV. Serena is a very interesting character, she doesn’t take s*** from anyone and she’s ruthless, but at the same time she is caring and you just kkow deep inside of her she misses the friendship she has with Michael.
“Instead of toasting. Serena placed a revolver on the table next to her plate. Naomi snorted. Cliloe sighed. And I just stared at it as Domet think We were off to a great start.”
I also really liked that the character of Naomi had a bigger role in this sequel. Due to the previous events of the first book where she was shot by the Crooked Prince, she has become addicted to a drug known as Blackberries to curb the effects. The dialogue between Michael and Naomi was hilarious and there were many moments where I couldn’t control my laughter.
“Goodbye, Naomi.” I left her sitting on the bench.
“Bye, sweetie,” Naomi said. “It’ll be cold in bed without you.”
The joke was on her, we still didn’t have beds in Kingman Keep.
Another interesting character was Symon aka The King of Stories. Symon is obsessed with recording the every move of Michael and his family. Although a bit weird at first, Symon reasoning as to why he is obsessed with the Kingman family was really interesting. The character of Trey also makes a great impact on the story. Trey is the best friend of Michael but there’s a lot of tension between them due to the death of Trey’s brother Jamal.
When considering the world building, Nick Martel injects even more depth into the world of Hollow. For example the magic system in the series is focused on fabrications which give individuals specific powers. However, the more an individual uses these powers, the more they lose their memories. The end outcome of over exerting one’s powers is that an individual becomes known as “A Forgotten” resulting in the individual losing ones memory. The author also further expands on the world building by delving into the origins of the magic system, families that existed before current events, the legacy of the Kingman family, immortals, and my favorite, dragons!! I obviously do not want to say too much but Nick Martell’s interpretation of dragons was so fresh and new. I was blown away but I have they were connected to the world and the story being told.
One thing that I guess I would have liked to see is a map of hollow and places outside of hollow such as New Dracon City. Throughout the story they are references to places outside of Hollow so it would have been nice to see these places through the map.
Finally in terms of the writing, this book was even more intense than book one. Page after page after page I was on the edge of my seat wondering what on earth is going to happen next. There were so many twists that my mind was going to explode by the end of the book (you bet your ass it did). I have nothing but praise for the author’s writing and the way in which everything was executed. Even though there are many serious moments, there is also a lot of humour through Michael, Naomi, and Rock. Nick Martell did really well in balancing humour with seriousness.
Also, although there is a lot going on, Nick Martel does a superb job in balancing all the subplots that are going on i.e. the hunt for a serial killer, the rebellion, the refugees coming into the city of Hollow, uncovering Dark’s past, and also the back and forth between Serena and Michael. It was so easy to follow everything that was going on which is always tough when there are multiple plot lines going on. But Nick being Nick knocks it out of the park.
Overall, what can I say except that I absolutely adored and love this book with all my heart. Nick Martell’s passion for writing and storytelling really comes off again in the sequel. I absolutely loved the twist and the surprises that were uncovered throughout the story. There were many unexpected moments that I could never have imagined and it was just such a joy when you found out unexpected things. Also, the ending was so emotional but also traumatic because of what happens and I’m so excited for the final book. But I’m also sad because I know I’m going to miss Michael and the world of Hollow so much 😭.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Sammi and Galllery Books for sending me a copy of the book. I am so grateful for the opportunity to review and read this book. Thank you so much.