This was another very heavy book to read, emotionally. Considering the main character's background, that's hard to avoid. Still, I was drawn in right away, no real lull from where the previous book left off.
I wondered what the author would do with the POVs, since she had such a unique approach to the previous book, which would not have worked for this one. Instead of what she did in The Fifth Season, the other characters were simply others who had been important but estranged from Essun.
This author really knows how to break the heart of a reader, writing some impressively poignant, gut-wrenching tragedy. It's not just that some characters die, although of course some do, but it's the way it happens. Some authors who specialize in shocking deaths, like George R.R. Martin, could really learn from Jemisin's storytelling style. Her deaths fit the story, are often foreshadowed, but still manage to be utterly devastating in unexpected ways.
One thing I had hoped to see, and was not disappointed, was more Guardians. They were just so creepy and mysterious. There's a lot more about Guardians in this installment, and I have to say, despite what I've learned, they're still creepy and somewhat mysterious.
I really feel for Essun. As someone with kids of my own, I don't want to let myself get too much into her mentality, because it's too horrifying to imagine the things she has been through, but I'm really attached to her, and I find myself also caring a great deal about the people she loves.
I've had a sense of dread as I've been reading, because I'm having trouble seeing how this can end well. I'm still hoping it will. I expect the last installment to be gripping, and really powerful.