Published: January 2013
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry
“Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.
Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.
As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Pledge and have been waiting eagerly for The Essence to cross my path. Unfortunately, for me, there was a little bit of something missing. I really don't know what. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, because I did - it just didn't blow me away the same way that The Pledge did.
There was quite a lot going on in the story, but I found myself becoming frustrated with Charlie. After all the problems that Sabara has caused, WHY would Charlie not tell anyone that that her consciousness was still there. It just seemed cowardly and somewhat selfish and I couldn't understand it, other than as a plot device. I get that Charlie was a bit embarrassed by it all, but still - it just didn't ring true for me.
However I absolutely adored Brook this time around. What a wonderfully strong character she is, and I loved her relationship with Aron. I actually got more shivers from their relationship than I did from Charlie and Max. There are some exciting goings-on throughout the book - tension and intrigue aplenty, but somehow, the spark was missing. As it turns out, Christinabean felt much the same way as I did. I will read #3, because I do want to find out what happens, and I feel I owe it to The Pledge, which has had so much positive press. I just hope that Charlie is a little more sensible next time around.