I was provided with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Antebellum Awakening is the second novel in Katie Cross’ The Network series. The story begins two months after the events of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, and culminates with protagonist Bianca’s seventeenth birthday. Please proceed with caution if you have not read MMSFG– it’s difficult to discuss the plot of Antebellum Awakening without discussing the events of MMSFG.
Bianca has moved into Chatham Castle. She lives with her friends from school, and she spends her days studying and training with her father’s assistant, Merrick. But Bianca has been tasked with keeping a terrible secret: she failed to remove her Inheritance Curse, and will therefore die on her seventeenth birthday if she does not complete the unknown task that the duplicitous Miss Mabel requires. So, in addition to coming to terms with the terrible betrayal and the tragic events that occurred at the end of MMSFG, Bianca cannot discuss her impending death with anyone. She is also prevented from telling anyone about her legally binding contract with Miss Mabel.
The events that began in MMSFG are only the beginning of a larger political plot that continue to take shape during Antebellum Awakening. The different regions of The Network keep to themselves, but invasion is a constant threat. There are rumblings throughout Chatham and Letum Woods, and dragons have even been sighted- something that has not occurred for over a hundred years.
I loved Antebellum Awakening. Katie Cross has created a fascinating world full of magic and political intrigue. Bianca must come to terms with her grief, and although she has every right to be angry about what has happened to her, she must learn to control her rage, or it will be her downfall. This all sounds very serious- and it is- but there is still time for moments of levity. Bianca cares very deeply about her friends, and there are even hints of romance for this cadre of teenage girls.
I would absolutely recommend Antebellum Awakening. Once again, I was left wanting more after the climactic final scene. Katie Cross has an engaging fantasy series that will surely delight young adult audiences, and holds appeal beyond the target audience. There is a prequel installment coming out in a couple of weeks; I can’t wait to read it, and I can’t wait to find out what the future holds for Bianca!