Book Rant Wednesday: The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney

Sequels are always hard, but especially in a trilogy. You have to follow through with what you set up in the first book, and you have to set up the third book. Somewhere in there, it also needs to have it’s own plot arc. This one does the first, and sorta does the second, but it totally forgets about the third.

The first book left off after a great, epic showdown. I didn’t love the first book, but it wasn’t bad either. I liked the world building, even if it’s not that complicated. What’s there works, but nothing feels fresh about it. Partly, that may be because I’ve read so much fantasy over the years. I sorta read, in alphabetical order, my neighborhood library’s scifi/fantasy section as a teenager. Certain tropes are almost too predictable for my tastes. But even with that aside, you need to have some way to follow that showdown.

Instead of rebuilding tension, this one drags, and drags, and drags on. They’re going to try her for what happened at the end of book 1 (No spoilers here), and that hangs over her head for most of the book. Beyond that, there’s hints that set up book 3, a new power that seems thrown in, and the rest is all interpersonal conflicts. Essentially, almost all of book 2 could have been summed up in a paragraph or two, and then onward to the next confrontation. There was one nice confrontation at the end, but by that point, I was almost too bored to care.

Things to learn from this:
1. Even if it’s part of a series, a book cannot serve as ONLY a bridge. It MUST have an arc of its own.
2. Interpersonal drama alone cannot carry a YA fantasy novel. Even if you have some larger threat looming, it has to feel immediate. Otherwise, it’s simply taking up pages.

What do you all think?


  1. Fiona said,

    July 4, 2012 at 3:58 am

    I agree. I do think the second book is the hardest to write when writing a trilogy, but that’s no excuse. Just because a reader knows that the book is part of a set is not enough incentive to keep reading. If the pace is slack and there doesn’t seem to be any real plot arc, then what’s the point? Even as part of a trilogy, somebody off the street should be able to come in and read the book. I’m not saying they have to enjoy it, or even care about it, but it should at least be able to stand alone in some respects. So I definitely agree with you here, Leigh. Great post!

  2. abigailkern said,

    July 5, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Agreed. Trilogies are so tough to tackle. When someone does it wrong, it’s really wrong, but when they do it right, it’s really right.

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