by Katie Cross
Series: The Network Series #2
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Never underestimate the power of a volatile witch. Still reeling in the wake of her mother’s death, sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe is forced to move to Chatham Castle. Not even the sudden appearance of ancient dragons in haunted Letum Wood nor her two best friends can distract her from the strength of her deep, dark rage. Her grief puts her magical powers into chaos, endangering any witch around her. She has six months left to destroy the curse that will kill her and fulfill her contract with the most cunning enemy of all: her former teacher Miss Mabel. Bianca must make a choice: learn to control her restless powers, or let the powers control her. Antebellum Awakening is the second book in the thrilling new fantasy collection The Network Series. It’s a haunting tale about tragedy, loss, and the power of moving on.
Antebellum Awakening is the second novel in Katie Cross’s Network Series. I am really enjoying this young adult paranormal fantasy filled with witches, dragons and one determined protagonist. Katie Cross continues to flesh out the world and its characters. I quickly became caught up in the events unfolding in Chatham Castle from danger to political maneuvering.
Our protagonist sixteen year old Bianca Monroe is a cursed, powerful and inexperienced witch. She is mourning the loss of her mother and trying to come to terms with the twisted predicament she finds herself in. Bianca and her father, along with her closest classmates are tucked within the safety of Chatham Castle, nestled on the edge of Letum Wood. Bianca’s grief has her magic building, and when frightened or angered she is unable to contain it. With only six months left before the curse will engage she has no time to think of romance or balls.
In Antebellum Awakening, we see Bianca grow as a character. First she must learn to control and hone her powers if she has any hope of confronting and destroying her enemy. She is a strong character, and these tasks are not easy, but she is smart, determined, and inquisitive. One of the things I admire most about her is her unselfish attitude, most sixteen year olds would be caught up in the curse, but Bianca’s first thought are protecting those around her. Bianca is far from perfect, and there are moments when she truly is just a sixteen-year-old girl who misses her mother. I liked how realistic she is portrayed.
The High Priestess has a young Guardian train her in sword fighting in an effort to burn off her excess magic and prepare her for battle. I enjoyed the time these too spent together, and while Bianca took notice of how handsome he was, she was far too concerned with her quest. It is nice to have a young adult series free of insta-love, triangles and angst but I am secretly hoping that their relationship continues to flourish in book three. Her friends are well developed. I can close my eyes and see them spring to life. Camille is more concerned with a certain young guardian and loathes her schoolwork. Leda is always in the library studying and you just know there is much more to this young woman. Our villain Miss Mabel is deliciously evil. She is the type you love to hate.
The tale unfolds slowly in Antebellum Awakening, and picks up speed in the final quarter of the novel as the danger escalates and Bianca approaches her seventeenth birthday. Time travel, spells, clues, and allies kept me engrossed. I loved the dragon aspect and other side threads. If I had, my way those threads would have been furthered developed. The ending was satisfying and left me eager for the next installment.