Title: The Long-Forgotten Winter King (The Guild Codex: Unveiled #2)
Author: Annette Marie
Publisher: Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.
Release Date: January 14th, 2022
Genre: New Adult – Urban Fantasy
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Everyone is keeping secrets.
Zak won’t reveal what really happened between us ten years ago. Ríkr’s been hiding so much I scarcely recognize him anymore. But the biggest secret belongs to my parents, and it’s the one I’m most desperate to unravel.
Finding out who they really were, and who I am, means solving their eighteen-year-old murders. For reasons unknown, Zak decides to join me—and that makes me nervous, especially when the trail leads us into the most dangerous fae territory in the lower mainland.
The questions keep piling up, but as I realize too late, my parents’ killer is no mystery. He’s been lying in wait all along.
But not for me.
I’ve led Zak and Ríkr into a hell with no escape, and I need more than answers now. I need power—because without it, none of us will make it out alive.
From the author of the best-selling Guild Codex books comes a new series that delves into the dark, dangerous world of druids and fae alongside two ravaged souls who may be exactly what the other needs … if they don’t kill each other first.
Unveiled can be read as a standalone series or in conjunction with other Guild Codex series. For the full reading order, visit Annette Marie’s website.
The Guild Codex: Unveiled
The One and Only Crystal Druid (#1)
The Long-Forgotten Winter King (#2)
The Twice-Scorned Lady of Shadow (#3)
More series in the Guild Codex world:
The Guild Codex: Spellbound
The Guild Codex: Demonized
The Guild Codex: Warped
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
Note: I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
“Next time you want a favor at the crack of dawn, at least bring me a coffee or something.”
“Pain and adrenaline work better than caffeine,” I informed him with sugary venom. “Would you like some of those?”
Whoa. This book completely took over my life for a day or two. Sure, my expectations were already high from the start, because I really loved the first book in this series, The One and Only Crystal Druid, and the cliffhanger it ended on had me craving more Saber and Zak and Ríkr so much. But then this book? Exceeded all expectations. It was completely unputdownable. I mean, I did put it down here and there because adulting was required, but if I had the chance? This would have been a one-sitting read, no question about it!
The Long-Forgotten Winter King is the second book in the Guild Codex: Unveiled series and picks up almost right after the events of book one. We follow Saber as she deals with the events and shocking revelations she experienced and while everything is still dark, twisted and messy, but there’s also such growth. Really, this book just excelled in so many aspects, so let me summarize what I loved the most:
The complexity and ever-increasing depth of the worldbuilding
If you’re new to the series, a quick intro: Unveiled is a series set in the Guild Codex World and follows the characters of Saber and Zak specifically. It’s set after the events of other series set in the Guild Codex World: Spellbound, Demonized and (partly) Warped, and though each series can be read as a standalone, I think you really get the full experience by reading them all (starting with Spellbound). Because when you read them all, that is when you can REALLY appreciate the genius that went into creating this world. With every new series and each new book I am in awe of the complexity of the world and how everything fits together so perfectly and yet every series brings something new and seems to go deeper into a specific aspect of the world. Unveiled specifically focuses on the fae world and mythics involved with the fae, like druids and witches. And while so separately intriguing, it’s also so intricately woven together and I just… I am in awe okay?
While we got to know all characters in book one, book two really brings us the backstories. Or at least, pretty big parts of them. Saber especially is reeling from past events and determined to find out more about her past so she can figure out what’s in her future. She’s investigating what happened to her parents and of course Zak and Ríkr are along for the ride. Talking about Zak, we also keep chipping away at his broody and distant exterior and keep getting little glimpses of the broken, vulnerable man with the twisted past that’s underneath. And of course there’s Ríkr. The mysterious fae companion of Saber gets his time in the spotlight and just when I thought I couldn’t love him any more, his backstory happened and there are the heart-eyes!
Messy but oh so intriguing relationships
I have always adored how Annette Marie crafts the relationships between her characters. Every character interaction, every relationship feels so vivid and real and that is also the case in this story. But this time, due to the darkness of the characters, there is an added rawness to every relationship. They’re all flawed and messy and twisted, yes, but also so beautifully human and that somehow makes them even more precious to me. I loved every moment and interaction throughout the story. Of course there is the relationship between Saber and Zak, that is fraught with so much pain and betrayal and yet they have such an undeniable pull towards each other and share an understanding on a deep level. Will these two work through their issues and realise they work better together? I certainly hope so, because the chemistry is off-the-charts and the slow-burn is one of the best. But even more so than Zak and Saber, what really shined in this installment is the relationship between Saber and her fae companion, Ríkr. These two had A LOT to work through, but the payoff is so worth it. And then there’s Zak and Lallakai, his fae companion. For many books already, these two have had an intriguing, though extremely messed-up relationship and getting these glimpses into their interactions have me even more excited to unravel it all. And speaking about Lallakai…
I even care about Lallakai now!
Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the Night Eagle, or the Lady of Shadows. Sure, she’s cool and powerful, but I never liked her. I barely even tolerated her. But there have been glimpses of someone good(-ish) underneath it all, and I am ready to learn more about her and her backstory. And that turnaround is only because of Annette Marie’s skillful writing and complex, multi-dimensional characters. Who knows, I may even grow to like Lallakai! Either way, I’m already super excited for book three, The The Twice-Scorned Lady of Shadow!
So I once again got a bit carried away with this review, but it just deserves all the rave and I could go on and on for a very long time about how much I love every single aspect of this series. However, here’s a short summary: I highly recommend the Guild Codex series to any lover of fantasy. Check out Unveiled specifically if you like dark backstories, twisted characters, powerful fae and messy relationships with a strong emotional and empowering undercurrent. (Also, did I mention this installment features the “there’s only one bed” trope? You’re welcome).
“For mortal creatures living brief, fierce, desperate lives, death is their greatest foe. But for beings such as me, the greatest foe is atrophy— to cease living and merely exist, trapped in the passionless patterns of the long, long years.“
“I’ll get to that, but first”— a corner of his mouth quirked up as he scanned me—“ I’ve gotta say, the cute ferret really takes your badass druid look to the next level.”
“And yeah, I know that cylindrical rodent is actually a big, bad, scary fae, but he’s still ador—”
“Get to the point, Morris.”