This a spoiler-free review of A House of Rage and Sorrow but might contain hints and spoilers for the first novel, A Spark of White Fire.
Back in May, I read a wonderful novel called A Spark of White Fire, by Sangu Mandanna and it easily became one of my favourite novels of the year. It was the perfect space-opera, with complex characters, captivating world-building and an ending that utterly broke my heart. I was genuinely in tears, reading those last pages, because the way everything unraveled was so masterfully done, I could feel every single emotion on the page. Do you know that feeling when something truly terrible happens to a character, and you just want to give them a hug and tell them it’s all going to be okay (even if you know it won’t)? That was me with Esmae.
After the ending, the title of the sequel, A House of Rage and Sorrow, came to no surprise. It encompasses the ending of A Spark of White Fire while also setting the tone of the sequel flawlessly. Reading this sequel was an emotional experience, and page after page, the title made sense, sometimes obviously and sometimes in a very subtle manner. A House of Rage and Sorrow was honestly one of the best novels I’ve ever read.
A big thank you to Caffeine Blog Tours for allowing me to take part in this blog tour, and to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for this free e-ARC of the novel. This did not affect my opinion of this book and the content of my review in any way.
One kingdom. One crown. One family.
“Maybe it’s time the great House of Rey came to an end. After all, what are we now? Just a house of rage and sorrow.”
Esmae once wanted nothing more than to help her golden brother win the crown of Kali but that dream died with her best friend. Alexi broke her heart, and she vowed to destroy him for it. And with her sentient warship Titania beside her, how can she possibly fail?
As gods, beasts, and kingdoms choose sides, Alexi seeks out a weapon more devastating than even Titania. Past lives threaten the present. Old enemies claim their due. And Esmae cannot outrun the ghosts and the questions that haunt her. What really happened to her father? What was the third boon her mother asked of Amba? For in the shadows, lurking in wait, are secrets that will swallow her whole.
The House of Rey is at war. And the entire galaxy will bleed before the end.
A House of Rage and Sorrow picks up a few months after the ending of A Spark of White Fire, with Esmae determined to destroy her twin brother Alexi. From the start, it is obvious the events of the first novel have had a long and lasting impact on Esmae and the world that surrounds her. But Esmae is determined, focused on this one goal.
From the first page, the writing is soft and fluid but is like a punch to the gut. It is deeply emotional in its softness, and almost quietness. Through it, Esmae’s voice resonates deeply, and I could feel every heartbeat and every heartbreaking emotions she was feeling. Grief is explored is a very thoughtful and honest way. The way Sangu Mandanna writes it touched me personally, and throughout the whole novel, I related to Esmae so much. The writing is masterfully-crafted: Esmae expresses her own sadness with words in her point of view, but the writing also shows you how deep it runs within her actions, how much it changed her as a person. I appreciated how Esmae was honest and acknowledged her pain and grief. The writing also has truly wonderful metaphors, creating an added layer to the world-building.
The plot was a bit slow to fall into place, but when it did, it was intense and with high stakes. The setup before it was perfect. It was an unexpected event that made complete sense. And that one act, that one moment has every thread of the story unraveling, almost like fate, while holding many twists and surprises. You have a general idea of the things that will be important down the line, but never how they will be important. I loved how everything was intertwined but nothing was as it seemed, which kept me on my toes for the whole story. Every action had its consequences, and every secret had a point. The story-telling was magnificent.
The fast pace in A House of Rage and Sorrow did not betray the character development or the emotional toll of the story in the slightest. It was the perfect balance of deeply emotional moments but with also some relief at times and humour in the dialogues. To me , it felt like a brilliant representation of depression and grief: sometimes, you’re able to smile and laugh in those moments when the pain is just a dull noise in the background, there, but muted. Maybe that is why it touched me so much, because I could see myself in the story.
And the characters are, of course, one of the best part of the story. You all know now how much I love Esmae, but Titania really shines through in this installment. Of course, she always had a special place in the story, the spaceship that started it all. Her personality grows even more, and so does her place in the story-telling. A few chapters are in her point of view, where she pulls us into the story and talks to us as if we were the spectators of an unraveling tragedy. It makes everything more intense. Her point of view also allows us a look into the other side of the story and of the conflict, building the other characters and builds suspense wonderfully. She really has her own, unique voice, at the heart of the story. Sybilla is, of course, a legend (as if she could be anything less), and her stubbornness and loyalty to Esmae and Max felt like a balm to the soul. Radha was an incredible character, and I loved that she was introduced, and her place in the story. I adored Max’s character development, we truly got to know him better in A House of Rage and Sorrow, it was beautiful.
A House of Rage and Sorrow was a phenomenal sequel to A Spark of White Fire, full of emotions, wonderful character development and an expanding world-building. I absolutely fell in love with this novel, and it is one that will stay with me for a very long time.
Favourite Quotes 🖋️
International Giveaway ✉️
I love the concept for this giveaway! The prize is for the privilege of naming one of the Book 3 characters. It will have one winner, and the giveaway is taking place on Caffeine Book Tours twitter! It is of course open internationally.
About the Author
Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.
Be sure to check out all the blog tour stops to read more about the novel, starting with Shealea blog tour launch post! 💛🧡
Have you read A Spark of White Fire? What were your thoughts? Do you like space-operas? I’d love to what in the comments!