Blood Under Water (Dark Renaissance Book 2) by Toby Frost

Guilia the thief-taker and Hugh the knight move on from their past adventures looking for a quieter existence… y’know, just hunting some wyvern for their special magical qualities. But after meeting up with some old friends in their new city of Averrio, they are framed for the murder of a priest. The city watch sees these foreigners as an easy way to close the case. Some jedi mind tricks by the wizard Elayne frees Guilia for seven days to go and find proof of the crew’s innocence.

Scampering over rooftops and hiding in alleys, she looks for clues in the murder of a priest. Guilia starts to reveal a conspiracy tied to the highest ranks of government, but she also finds a host of evil entities that stand in her way.

I felt like the tone of much of this book was different than the first in the series. This is not a bad thing at all. It keeps that same Renaissance Noir urban-fantasy atmosphere, but I felt a good connection with Guilia as she was on her own for the most part in the first half of the book. She’s following leads and tracking down evidence. It’s tough going and it takes more than one pull of the dagger and aim of the crossbow to get her the dirt she needs. There’s a bit more about her Melancholia that was touched upon in the first book, but I wanted further explanation and this to be a bigger factor because I think it would enhance her character.

The worldbuilding and especially the magic systems are a good mashup of so many different influences… warring religions, the fae, beasts of all sorts, and a political scheming. A bit more info on the magic users was needed at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed like the vast array of fun that has sprouted from Frost’s head. Every page turn was the possibility of another twist of imagination.

I really liked the tangential connection between books 1 and 2. A new sandbox for Hugh and Guilia, but the same sense of adventure and guts.

Here’s my review for book 1: Up the Throne by Toby Frost

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy for review.

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