by Jaq D. Hawkins
Although this is technically the second book in a series, it stands alone and could easily be read as the first book for those who like more action in their Fantasy instead of the exposition and world building that characterized the first book.
It starts out with a young girl running away from an arranged wedding to join the magicians on the other side of the river in a post-apocalyptic London. The old city is in ruins, but a more primitive society has developed over time from the descendants of survivors of a cataclysm.
I liked the young characters in this. I think it would appeal to YA readers as much as to adults. The young Prince Alaric is a cheeky 10-year-old who can be very childish one moment, then very mature when circumstances require it. Namah, the girl who has run away, leads the story and it is through her eyes that we learn about the magicians and later, the goblins.
Instead of repeating the conflict between humans and goblins from the first book, an outside threat drives Count Anton to seek help from the goblins, but such assistance is far from guaranteed and there are some scary moments when he confronts a faction of goblins that would be happy to see all humans dead.
As with the first book, the world of the goblins is very primitive and tribal, but we get to see some different aspects of it than we saw in the first book and without wanting to give spoilers, dragons feature.
The book has a tidy ending, but leaves something open enough to make me want to read the third story. There are some unexpected surprises and I found the whole thing very emotional, though there were some very funny moments too. One of the things I liked best were the variety of interesting creatures related to the goblins and the different factions of goblins themselves, plus the ending was a heart wrencher. The writing is very accessible too. I read more than half of the book in one night without realizing I had gone that far until it was nearly the end.