Georgia Goodall reviews Second Nature by Lauren Kuzimski.
Opposite elements, same side…
Long ago, the Esscas, a rogue group of elementals, had once dared to challenge the Queens, the self-proclaimed masters of the element realms. The resulting war had decimated the world and the very people. In the end though, the Queens had prevailed and banished the Esscas to the After for all eternity.
Fae had shared no alliance with the Esscas, but had felt the ripples of their punishment nonetheless. For their actions, she would never be free. Born a fire elemental herself, Fae had spent every waking moment of her life training to be a guard for her Queen, with no choices in regards to her own fate. It was that or exile herself.
Jace, on the other hand, had been born an earth elemental with every choice in the world, yet had been one of those that had taken part in the Esscas. His punishment… eternity in exile, swallowed in regrets…
When the Esscas escape, vengeful and angry, and threatening the world once more, Fae and Jace quickly find their fates intertwined. While Fae fights for the chance to taste her freedom, Jace finds a chance to atone for his past mistakes.
Only by setting aside their differences, in both elements and loyalties, do they stand any chance to make a change and defeat Jace’s ex-team once more.
If only trust was that easy…
A previous reviewer of Second Nature wrote that “this book just needs a really good editing”. Well, it’s now had one, and the strength and originality of Kuzimski’s story gets its chance to shine through. The use of elemental magic isn’t new to the fantasy genre by any means, but Kuzimski brings a fresh new approach to it with a gripping storyline that had me captivated while on holiday.
The world of Second Nature is split into six realms: earth, air, fire, water, light, and dark. Each realm has a Queen who can wield the titular element, but each realm also has an Essca. The Esscas are rogues who shouldn’t be able to control the elements, but they can, and together they attempt a coup against the Queens. Second Nature is set 100 years after the coup fails and the Esscas are banished to the After, but as with any good villain in a story…they’re on their way back. Though, the more you learn about the Queens, the more you question who the villains really are.
There’s a bit of romance, a lot of fighting and some fascinating world/magic building. With twists that I didn’t see coming and in-depth, intriguing character development, this is a fantastic first pursuit into writing for Lauren Kuzimiski. I’m an avid fantasy reader used to the likes of the bestsellers, and even I’m excited for book two.
Our main narrator for Second Nature is the earth Essca, Slingshot, but I love the use of different viewpoints used throughout. We get insights into the minds of Esscas, Queens, and people in between, which gives a depth to the plot and story that can sometimes be left out with only one perspective. This use of multiple voices often leaves you questioning whose side you’re on and in the end I doubt you’ll have picked the right one.
Overall, Second Nature is an entertaining, great first novel from Lauren Kuzimski and any reader of light, easy fantasy should enjoy it.
The sequel True Nature has been written and will hopefully be released soon. For similar reading, reminiscent character development/traits of The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson.