Uncaged by Celia McMahon

The sequel to Unspoken, and the second book in Celia McMahon’s fantasy trilogy, Uncaged offers an action-packed continuation of a story about magic, loyalty, wolves and war.

If you haven’t read Unspoken, stop here. Do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200 (I saw it first, and finders keepers). Uncaged is not for the faint of heart, and this review is going to contain spoilers. To really appreciate them, you’re going to want to start at the beginning.

Now, on to the juicy stuff. We’ve got alliances, backstabbing, clash of the kingdoms, and death. On top of that dark bigger picture, there’s plenty of individualistic struggle and development to keep readers engaged with the characters they first encountered in the start of the trilogy, not to mention a few new players introduced in this book. Readers may recall that Unspoken left off with Izzy and Fray’s escape from Stormwall, and Uncaged picks up with their journey through the Archway and into The Old Kingdom, hoping they’ll find some allies in Fray’s former pack. Easy enough, right?

Wrong. McMahon presents her characters with challenges unique to those trying to navigate a brewing war. With loyalties being called into question, and new enemies cropping up out of broken agreements, it’s really not the time for Izzy to have to juggle newly realized magical power, too. But, if she wants to stay in the home she’s found with the family she’s surrounded herself with, she’d better learn fast.

One of the things I loved about McMahon’s writing style is her ability to build an entire world without it being so obvious that it took me out of the story. Her transitions and exposition sections are smooth, almost sneaky in that you learn about her characters and her world without even realizing just how much you know until a crucial moment arises and that background comes in handy. This read is heavy in subject matter, but gentle on the ears and brain in terms of narrative flow and story construction.

Though I have to stress how crucial it is to read the first installment of the series before this book, I will say that once you do get to Uncaged, you’ll find yourself in an immersive literary adventure that could almost stand on its own. McMahon reels you in with sympathetic characters, thrilling twists, and an easy to digest tone that will make you feel as though she were sitting right in front of you, spinning a yarn for your ears only.

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