published: 6th April 2021
After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally ready to take on the mantle of crown prince. His first task: preparing for the peace talks with Castallan’s former colonizers, the nation of Englass.
But when the summit coincides with the reemergence of Los Toros, the mysterious syndicate of assassins responsible for Alfie’s brother’s death, and Finn’s unexpected installation as one of the four Thief Lords of Castallan, the two must reunite to discover the hidden link between these events—before it’s too late.
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: violence, gore, body horror
In all honesty, Oculta suffered a little bit from two things: just how much I remember enjoying Nocturna and my changing feelings towards YA fantasy since then. While I still really enjoyed the book — and the ending had me on the edge of my seat — I had to force myself to pick it up at times (although I did really enjoy reading it once I’d done that).
Oculta opens a few months after the end of Nocturna, with Alfie and Finn back in their respective lives. The events of the book centre on a peace conference, between Castallan and Englass. But not everyone wants the conference to go ahead, and a series of murders force Alfie and Finn back together to investigate.
What can I say about this book that I haven’t already said somewhere about Nocturna? Firstly, I think this series has some of the most immersive worldbuilding I’ve read in YA fantasy. Everything feels real, and tangible, in a way that I don’t often feel I get in YA SFF. And it does so without too many periods of infodumping. (Although, to be fair, I have a tendency to skim those anyway these days.)
And then there’s the characters. I loved Alfie and Finn in the first book, and I adored them just as much here. We also get to see from Luka’s POV, finally, in this one, and I really enjoyed that extra dimension to it all. That being said, I’ve never seen Alfie and Finn as romance potential (personally, of course), so when it started getting romantic between them, I was a little bit bored. Like, I love them individually and as friends, but I don’t love them together. I’m aware that’s likely just me, though.
The best part of this book, however, was the ending. It was the perfect ending to stop you short and make you maybe swear out loud. The kind of ending that makes you wish desperately that you weren’t reading the series as it released, but already had the next book on hand.
So this review is a big, massive hint that you should read these books. Right now, preferably.