Today’s review is for TO SNAP A SILVER STEM, the second book in Sarah A. Parker’s Crystal Bloom series. It began as a dark Rapunzel retelling. Now Auren, the main character, tries to reclaim her sense of self and identity. This is a series the fans of The Plated Prisoner will appreciate.
Author: Sarah A. Parker
Series: Crystal Bloom, #2
Age Category: New Adult/Adult
Publish Date: August 8, 2022
Print Length: 572
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I want him to hurt. To bleed.
I want him to snap, just like he snapped me.
Once upon a time, my world was small and sheltered. Everything changed the moment I stepped over my Safety Line, barreling towards a coupling with a man I hardly know.He wants me. All of me.
Dunked in a charged political pit, I must secure the ships needed to quell the spill of murderous beasts still flooding the continent. But one wrong move could spur the war I’ve worked so hard to avoid.
I’ll wear the dress and the cupla and the shoes. I’ll do it all with a smile on my face. Because everyone’s watching.
He’s watching-hunting a fissure in my frosty shield, trying to scrape back the layers and see my ugly insides.
He’s unyielding. Unguarded.
Changed.Why is he looking now when I’ve got everything to hide?
Secrets sprout, truths bloom, and more than one of us will snap.
Crowned in the crippling weight of my mistakes, I must atone. Even if it costs me my life.
Fear was my overlord. Now, it’s my prisoner.
To Snap a Silver Stem is the explosive sequel of To Bleed a Crystal Bloom-a dark Rapunzel reimagining full of immersive imagery and breathtaking angst. A unique fantasy series perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer L. Armentrout, guaranteed to grip you from the very first page.
This review contains spoilers for the TO BLEED A CRYSTAL BLOOM, the first book of this series.
At the end of TO BLEED A CRYSTAL BLOOM (TBACB), Orlaith fled her high tower to find her freedom. TO SNAP A SILVER STEM starts with Orlaith’s journey across the sea to her betrothed’s kingdom. Now across her Safety Line, she has no one but herself to keep her safe, whether that bends or snaps her.
This sequel spends the majority of its time in Orlaith’s point of view (POV). She grapples with her toxic feelings for Rhordyn and is at war with both the lust and betrayal she feels. She lets that betrayal fuel delude her into hate as a coping mechanism as she processes everything she experienced over the past two decades or so. Yet amidst her emotional turmoil she finds she can do things on her own for herself and doesn’t need a constant protector. But what she learns along the way is both shocking and devastating, further flaming the fire in her mind.
A lesser amount of time occurs through three other POVs: Baze, Orlaith’s fighting instructor; Kai, Orlaith’s merperson friend; and Rhordyn. I appreciated reading about their concurrent perspectives in different parts of the fantasy world. It added more depth to the story. Kai’s POV was the most different from everyone else’s, though I can’t include more than that vague statement because it’s a spoiler! However, I found the writing style between the POVs all blended together. This made it minorly difficult for me to establish a voice for each character because the writing is lyrical for everyone. I expected that for Orlaith since she’s the main character with a lot of emotions to work through. Metaphors are important to convey that. But I think I would have enjoyed the multiple POVs perspective better if the writing was more clipped for Baze and Rhordyn to differentiate between them and Orlaith.
While I loved the tension and angst in TBACB, I felt like the pace of TO SNAP A SILVER STEM was slower. There’s still plenty of angst, but there were chunks where not much action happened. The characters were still out and about, and the author gives Orlaith a realistic amount of time to work through her emotions. But at 550 pages, I personally wanted more action! However, now that the cat’s out of the bag with that ending, maybe my wish will come true.
Lastly, since Orlaith left her tower, naturally that opens the door to more worldbuilding. She experiences time on the sea with a crew. She docks in a new land with strange-to-her customs. And the worldbuilding doesn’t stop with Orlaith as Kai’s POV takes place in another part of the world that seems bleary and magical.
I still enjoyed TO SNAP A SILVER STEM, but TBACB checked more boxes for me. I will absolutely read the next installment because I enjoy the author’s writing style. And I need to find out what happens next. (I may be a little pickier with this review because I read eight other books the same month I read this one.) So, overall, if you liked TBACB, you’ll most likely appreciate TO SNAP A SILVER STEM as well.
Content warnings: blood, gore, sexual content
Reading format: Kindle e-book