Die deutsche Rezension gibt's hier
.This review contains spoilers about the first book.
Vicar Pinch and the Tonton have been defeated, but that doesn’t mean Saba gets the happy end she deserves. Together with her siblings Lugh and Emmi, as well as Ike’s adopted son Tommo she travels into the west, hoping for lush green country and a place to live on. Jack promised to meet her there and except for Lugh everybody can’t wait to see him again. This is not meant to happen though: Tortured by her guilt, Saba’s unable to use her bow and even sees ghosts. They do find someone to help her, but they can’t be happy about it for too long: they get news from Jack and obviously he’ll neither meet them in the west nor is he trustworthy any longer. Saba wouldn’t be Saba if she wouldn’t try to find out the truth of this on her own – something Lugh isn’t too pleased about, who’s using the tiniest of her mistakes as an excuse to make life harder for her.Warning: in this first paragraph I’m ranting about Lugh.
I had some very serious issues with the characters in this book. This is not necessarily an argument against the book, but I definitely need to talk about it. Or to be more precise: I need to talk about Lugh. He’s one of those people we all have a special name for: it starts with A and ends with hole. In the first book I desperately wanted Saba to find her beloved brother und was thrilled about the chance to finally get to know him. You’d think he’d be happy to be back with his family or even a little bit thankful but no. We never really get to know what happened to him during his time with the Tonton, so it’s difficult to say how much it affects him. Still, I was a little shocked that he doesn’t seem to be grateful at all and never says the tiniest thanks to his sister. Instead, he’s bitter and constantly rants about Jack. I see why he isn’t happy that Saba met him, but saying that she can’t trust him because she doesn’t know him is ridiculous. Young man, you’ve known him how long exactly? Hours as opposed to days, weeks? If there’s someone who mustn’t judge Jack, it’s you!
It gets clear that he actually loves his sister, but most of the time she treats her as if she’s his property and has to do whatever he says. He emphasizes every single mistake she makes while completely ignoring his own. If she does something he does not agree with this is more or less a sin. He isn’t able or willing to neither bear the consequences of what he does nor to let the others take responsibility for their actions. Instead, everything’s his sister’s fault, because if it hadn’t been for her, he wouldn’t even have to make that decision. She practically forced his hand, right? Well, how about effing no? It was his own free, stupid and good decision. But it’s so much easier to put the blame on someone else and she already has a lot to deal with. So what difference could even more guilt possibly do?
Mind you, Lugh’s not the main character, though the one that infuriates me the most. You couldn’t even say that about Jack; he‘s part of the action only three times and then only for a short while.
It’s Saba, of course, the story focuses on the most and if I had to describe her in one word, it would be “tired”. She is tired because of what she had to do; all those deaths she caused weigh upon her mind. She can’t let go the people who didn’t do anything and still were sentenced to death by her. It’s no wonder there’s not much left of the Angel of Death: Saba can’t fight or even kill and desperately needs help nobody in her group can give her. In this book, she does many mistakes, some of them the result of hopelessness and anger. I didn’t particularly like most of those decisions, but after all she’s a tough young woman who, nevertheless, can stomach only so much. It isn’t easy for her and especially Lugh makes everything worse for his sister. If everything you did would be criticized day after day and you’re supposed to be responsible for whatever goes wrong, if those you loved most would treat you with contempt and rage – how long would it take to break you?
I’m not saying that nothing that happened is her fault. But it is human to show weakness and this is what she does. I just can’t reproach her for this, at least not fully. Besides, she’s not blind for her mistakes. She realizes she did them and blames herself more than necessary. Under those conditions, I do not doubt that she will learn and change.
Those have been my biggest problems with the novel and objectively examined they’re not really problems. However, I have to admit I missed the fast pace the first book had. I wasn’t surprised: Saba doesn’t want to fight any longer, but she wants Jack and a safe family – who wouldn’t? She feels so bad about everything that happened; she simply can’t start the next adventure right away. That’s easily understood, but doesn’t change the fact that the story only speeds up a little after the first half of the book.
After that, things get nasty, not only for the characters but the readers as well. I already mentioned the mistakes and wrong decisions and not only Saba is aware of them; some are not willing to ever let her forget them. Some even act like they never did something wrong themselves. Concerning the emotions, Moira Young here offers a colourful, often bitter tasting cocktail. There are few easy scenes where we just can have fun, mostly there’s guilt, bitterness, sometimes hypocrisy, poisoned love and much more that can quickly destroy bonds that were there for years. It isn’t fun but suits the situation.
What I was surprised about was how quickly I got used to the writing style again. I read the first book in German and even though Saba’s dialect found its way into the translation, the original version is much “heavier”. I was a little bit concerned about whether it would again take some time to get into the text, but that was absolutely unnecessary. Saba still talks as she thinks fits, so sometimes you might need to read a word aloud in order to understand it. Still, it’s a very easy and at least stylistically pleasant read. If you’re looking for great descriptions of the world, you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re looking for Saba, you’ll get that.
All in all, it’s a good book for me that offers entertainment, even though it doesn’t make you cry for joy. It’ll make your heart ache, and not necessarily romantically. There’s this desperation when humans are human und relationships are destroyed and destroyed again, while you only want a happy ending for all of them. “Rebel Heart” is not as good as “Blood Red Road”, but it’s no waste of time either and I actually needed the third book yesterday.