Whoa. What is a solid three-to-four star book starts to kick it up at the halfway mark and then hits hyperdrive in the explosive last act. I read the first book for Halloween bingo last year, and while I enjoyed it a lot, it wasn't a series that I felt that I HAD to return to immediately. I happened to catch a copy of the second book during a sale on BootOulet, and sort of casually picked it up, and while I liked the first half of the book, though that it was slow, that perhaps was a little too much bridging between books. I had started to doubt anything would happen in this book.
How wrong I was. I loved the addition of Newt, and I liked that Val feels more like a real character (though still venerated by men and women alike to a degree I feel distasteful.) And it breaks with modern convention of trilogy format by not ending with any more of a cliffhanger than the first did, and actually being somewhat... I don't want to say upbeat, but, yeah, compared to other 'part two's? Yeah.
I am now much more anxious to finish the trilogy. Hoping to get that done this Halloween!