escape aether (the trinity key trilogy book 2)
By L. M. Fry
Valera longs to escape her sheltered life and overbearing mother. She just never imagines that her opportunity would arrive after being kidnapped.
Now she has a decision to make: face a world filled with danger and discover her own power, or return home where it's safe and live in a gilded cage.
Escape Aether is the second book in the Trinity Key Trilogy and although it could be read on its own I think it definitely works best if it is read as it was intended, as the sequel to Into Aether. For teenage fans of Steampunk I would definitely recommend this trilogy.
This book primarily focuses on Valera. Ever since Theo came into her life Valera has been feeling confined by her overbearing mother and her sheltered upbringing on Aetherland. When she is kidnapped Valera must make a choice between the safety and confines of her old life or her new powers and the dangers that come along with them.
The book begins where the previous book left off: with Valera falling to her death. The opening lines of the book drew me right back into Aetherland. “The moon and the stars refused to watch Valera Plummet to her death. Only darkness surrounded her. Her connection to Theo faded the further she fell, leaving her in isolation.”
However, Valera quickly learns she is not in fact falling to her death but into a net drawn by her kidnapper Julia and Julia’s cousin Gideon.
Weirdly I found that Julia was my favourite character in this book but I couldn’t say why as she is distinctly unlikeable much of the time. “Everything was her fault, Julia. Theo had warned Valera about the third member of the Trinity. Theo’s ex best friend had turned out to be a spy for the Order of the Azure Serpents as well as that villain, Lazurus’ daughter. Julia was the perfect assassin.
At the start of the book Julia is angry with Theo for killing Lazarus and grief stricken over the loss of her dad. “Don’t look at me like I’m such a horrible person. Theo was the one who murdered my father. She’s a cold-blooded murderer!’ Julia’s tone oozed venom but tears formed in her eyes.”
She is also fighting to keep up her reputation as a ruthless member of the Order of the Azure Serpents but little things keep slipping through the gap in her image.
I also like that we got to learn more about Julia and her upbringing in this book, “Julia lived a very different life. During her time at the Order of the Azure Serpent’s Academy, she was the best in her class – the most agile fighter, the smartest pupil, the deadliest assassin. She excelled in everything. For sixteen years, she’d always done exactly as her father told her, but he had never seemed satisfied. She tried to convince him. He always said he’d give the key to her when she was ready, which by his standards was never. “
Julia often comes across as contemptuous of Theo and Valera’s upbringing but it becomes clear that she is actually envious. “Valera was weak. The girl had immense power inside of her, and yet, the girl had everything given to her. The perfect family. The perfect life. Just like the Theo
Julia on the other hand, never had a mother, and her father was only interested in how useful she could be.”
Julia’s father wasn’t the only one who was only out for what he could get from Julia, her ‘parents’ in the human world were hired by her father to keep an eye on her.
A lot of the things I learnt about Julia in this book made me feel sorry for her and also understand her better as a character. “The human world was never her home, and she’d only lived in the headquarters in Subterria as a young child. The academy was where she had spent most of her life, and that place was more like a prison than a home. ‘I don’t have a home’, she snapped.”
One of the reasons Valera choses to stay is Gideon, Julia’s cousin and their budding romance. “Valera’s attention was caught by the boy standing next to Julia. They could have been twins with their white-bond hair, except that Julia’s skin was a shade darker, and his eyes were grey not blue. His slim muscles strained with the effort of pulling Valera in. Soaked by the rain, his hair stuck to his forehead and his wire framed glasses. He brushed it away, leaving a smudge on his lenses Valera gasped. She’d never met a boy from outside Aetherland Isle.”
Gideon’s nervous nature around Valera was endearing, “Don’t listen to her. You’re much prettier than a swamp dog. I mean of course you are…swamp dogs are ugly beasts, so of course you are prettier…I mean you don’t weigh anything near a half-ton.”
Then as they spent more time together, “Gideon gaped at the girl in front of him. His Adams apple bobbed in his throat several times. Valera examined herself in the mirror, worried that she looked as silly as she felt. Nothing seemed out of place, but Gideon still gawked at her. No boy had ever looked at her with such an expression…she didn’t want to like the way he looked at her but she did.”
As her feelings begin to grow for Gideon so does her guilt over not trying harder to get back to her family and Theo. “The temptation to stay voluntarily niggled at her. She’d never been away from Aetherland Isle, and the prospect of seeing Subterria – recognizable or not – excited her, but it also terrified her. Valera had no desire to step into a raging war, and she certainly wasn’t going to take part in any ridiculous plot to help Julia, of all people, Gideon, on the other hand, muddled her resolve.”
Theo has had a lot to deal with in recent times and this is very much in evidence in this book and her lack of control over her emotions and her new powers. “Theo’s anger-generated thunderstorm soaked her and Victor both. She could still feel the anger draining from her veins and longed to draw it back inside. Her mind raced. She should have attacked Julia before they got to the dock. She should have kept watch over the mansion. She should go after them.”
Theo herself recognises that she is “on an emotional merry-go-round that she couldn’t escape.” She is dealing with a lot of different things and emotions at once. “What’s there to say? My dad came back from the dead as a cyborg. My parents have lied to me my entire life about where we came from. My best friend for the past two years was in reality a spy who hated me, who just pushed my boyfriend’s sister off an island that floats a million miles above the Atlantic Ocean. Oh and I’m a freak of nature with weirdo sparky powers.”
Theo is struggling not to hold a grudge against her parents for lying to her, is increasingly arguing bitterly with Victor and is feeling betrayed by Valera. Then to top it all off the Elders arrive and accuse her of Heresy.
This book deals with grief, anger, love and betrayal. It also introduces some new relationships into the mix and fractures in old ones. Finally, it sets the scene for the final book in the series: Save Aether.
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