Book Review: LEGACY OF GHOSTS by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

(Title: Legacy of Ghosts / Author: Alicia Wanstall-Burke / Publisher: Self-Published / Publication Date: November 30, 2019)

Four years have passed since the events that culminated Alicia Wanstall-Burke's first book in the Coraidic Sagas, Blood of Heirs.  Much has changed in those intervening years, both with the two main characters Lidan and Ran, and also within the kingdom itself regarding the threat that it faces from its hated enemy the Woaden Empire.  But there are other things much worse than enemy armies lurking along the fringes of the Southlands and Ortha.  Things in the form of unspeakably hideous animated corpses who raid villages and kill with impunity.  Some call them Dradur, others Ngaru, but whatever the name, they pose an existential threat to the people who inhabit the region and must be dealt with.

Lidan is now officially a ranger in her father the king's expeditionary force.  Her job is to patrol the border looking for signs of Ngaru and to root them out when found.  Her dream of being the true heir of the clan continues to be cast in doubt as her father finally has the son he has long-desired from another wife.  Her only hope is to convince her father that she is worthy of being his successor by her heroic exploits as a dedicated ranger protecting the clan against potential attack.  Keeping her mother at bay might be Lidan's biggest problem however, as she is none too happy that Lidan may be passed over and there's no telling what lengths she will stoop to rectify that situation.

As far as Ran goes, he also has issues with his father.  Ran has fled to an isolated keep where he could hide out from the king's men after he was caught using forbidden magic.  The use of magic is punishable by death in Orthia, and even though it was the king's own son who broke the highly sacred law, even he is not immune to the consequences and repercussions of violating it.  Ran now finds himself living in exile among the small population within the keep, a fugitive from the king's justice, but the walls may be closing in on him quicker than he realizes.

Both Lidan and Ran have matured beyond their years over the past four years, but will that be enough to help them defeat what is to come?  Can they find the strength within themselves to bury the demons of the past and forge a new future for themselves and their people?  And are their fates somehow unavoidably intertwined?  Many questions will be answered and even more will be posed once the final page of LEGACY OF GHOSTS is turned.  The kingdom may just be on the tipping point of destruction, and Ran and Lidan will have their own part to play in all that will transpire going forward.

There are certain books that feel like home to me.  I know this may sound silly to some, but upon reading Alicia Wanstall-Burke's debut novel Blood of Heirs, I immediately knew that this series was made for my particular tastes.  Now that I have read the stunning follow-up LEGACY OF GHOSTS, I'm even more of a believer.  There is such a rhythm and beauty to this series that I simply don't see in a lot of fantasy these days.  This book was a giant leap a leap in intensity and impending danger, so much so that even though it is roughly 250 pages longer than book one in page count, I devoured it just as rapidly.

One thing that I believe sets this series apart is the undeniable impact of having two main characters who are from such disparate backgrounds and social status, yet have to overcome incredible adversity and odds that are stacked against them, thus revealing that they are actually more alike than not in most ways.  It really is a brilliant way to construct a story and Wanstall-Burke deftly alternates viewpoints every few chapters so that we can see how the events on one side of the continent are affecting the other.  I never thought I would enjoy a book that has two main characters, but it doesn't even faze me anymore it is so natural in its presentation.

You might think by my praising of how character-driven this story is that it's light on action and tense moments.  Well think again because where the first book set things up wonderfully, this book hammers the action home with a thundering concussion and delivers beautifully on the promise of book one.  No second-book letup here I'm happy to say, and the action scenes that occur are so real and breathtaking that they leave you emotionally drained.  All of this is set against the backdrop of a land on the cusp of chaos and potential ruin.  I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and I wanted to find out what was eventually going to happen.

I can't praise LEGACY OF GHOSTS enough.  For all of the reasons I have just mentioned, plus an unbelievable ending that you won't see coming in your wildest imagination, this is a book and series that would be a crime to be missed.  Alicia Wanstall-Burke you have done it again!   Only, I'm more than a little upset that I have to wait for the third book now.  But that's just a testament to how this story gets its hooks into you and just doesn't relent for a single second.  If you enjoy your fantasy with a heaping of political intrigue, a healthy dose of magic, characters who touch you in the deepest and most emotional of ways, and a story that is so engrossing that you can't force yourself to put it down to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, etc....  then you absolutely need to read the Coraidic Sagas by Alicia Wanstall-Burke.  LEGACY OF GHOSTS is due to be released on November 30th, 2019, but you can preorder it now and start reading the first book in this series Blood of Heirs while you wait!

(My Rating: 10/10)