The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2) by Jen Williams (book review).

‘The Bitter Twins’ is book two in ‘The Winnowing Flame Trilogy’ by Jen Williams. This is her second trilogy of fantastic fantasy novels. Jen Williams is one of my very few auto-buy authors and, anything she writes, I will buy. So apologies if this is just a gush review about how much I love Jen Williams’ books, you have now been warned!

The synopsis to this book will contain spoilers to book one. ‘The Ninth Rain’. so please do not read any further if you haven’t already it. OK, so here we are with a bunch of war-beasts who have no memory of what magnificent animals they were before, along with a load of non-Eborans trying to train them.

To be honest, this is going better than they anticipated but then things start to go wrong as they often do in these situations. Meanwhile, the ancient enemy, the war-beasts, are meant to be able to fight are growing stronger and slowly destroying swathes of the land. This book feels like it kicks off pretty soon after ‘The Ninth Rain’ finished so we’re picking up from that massive cliff-hanger ending, thank goodness!

As usual, in a Jen Williams book, we get multiple POVs so we can see the story progressing from a lot of different viewpoints. This is one of the things I really enjoy about her books, but it also drives me mad when you sometimes just want to follow that one character who is doing something interesting and then you have to read a bunch of chapters that are also really interesting but you just want to go back to that one character.

The second thing I love about Jen’s writing is that she is just so easy to read, which is a bit of a miracle for many fantasy books. There are no massive info-dumps of high political intrigue, there aren’t a million different characters who all blend into one, you just get enough information and enough people to interest you without terrifying you as a reader.

Jen really does put her characters through some rough times and not all of them make it through so try not to bond too much with them, this is impossible by the way you will bond and you will cry. Jen writes such well-rounded characters and they all have an interesting and believable back story which is told throughout the book (see no info-dumps here). There is such realistic banter between everyone as well, it just feels real not forced at all just something you would hear between any given bunch of friends. I honestly think that Jen’s characters are what makes the books, don’t get me wrong, she also has great plot and pacing but you read these books for the characters first and foremost or at least I do.

Talking about Jen’s characters she is all about the inclusion in terms of different colours, disabilities or abilities, genders, and sexualities. But she manages to do this with a light hand not shoving it all into your face at all. Many of her characters also have mental health issues as well, which I thought was interesting given that in most fantasy books terrible things happen and everyone seems to come out the other side completely fine. There are people with PTSD, etc in this book showing that these characters are really realistic and believable.

One disappointment is that this book does suffer a little from middle book syndrome in that not a huge amount actually goes on, even though it does keep the reader entertained. It’s certainly not boring but you just get the impression there is a lot of set-up for book three here. We get a lot of information about other places in this world as a lot of the characters go their separate ways, which is interesting but I wasn’t sure exactly where these stories were going in terms of the main plot.

Overall, I will keep reading books by Jen Williams as long as she goes on writing them, I just love them and I wish more people would also start reading them and enjoying them, too.

Sarah Bruch

May 2018

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2) by Jen Williams

(pub: Headline. 612 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-47223-520-6)

check out website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.