📚 The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

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Diabolic, Book 2

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2017

Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Length: 11 hours 7 minutes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2017

SynopsisIt’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

 4.75★ Audiobook⎮ I always sort of hold my breath when beginning a sequel, especially if it’s been a while since hearing the previous installment. That was especially true when beginning The Empress because my expectations for it were so high.

I can’t imagine the type of pressure authors must feel when writing sequels. But luckily, in the case of The Empress, Kincaid was able to perfectly recapture the magic of The Diabolic. I actually breathed a sigh of relief when realizing that I was enjoying The Empress just as much as I had enjoyed The Diabolic. That rare, but spectacularly balanced, mixture of fantasy and science-fiction was again present in Kincaid’s work. There was a slightly more dominant Sci-Fi vibe in The Empress, giving it the feel of a Space Opera at times. But it still possessed the eery timeless atmosphere that I adored it in its predecessor. 

I had been looking forward to The Empress all year and it exceeded my expectations. And, oh my, the twists and turns we took. Nothing is ever as you expect it to be with SJ Kincaid. There’s political intrigue, backstabbing, and betrayal. Nothing is straightforward and no one is ever really dead, just like in a soap opera. My daytime television loving heart ate it all up. Kincaid managed to weave together a gripping drama that surprised me with every turn.

And beneath all of that drama was a deeper theme of finding one’s humanity. How exactly do we define what it means to be human? That question is at the core of this series. Nemesis’ growth as a character has been thought-provoking, to say the least. Nemesis is a fantastic and memorable character. She is written in a beautiful, if not entirely relatable, manner. The course her character development has taken has been just as much of an unexpected twist as anything else in the series.

It’s to the point now that I want to go back and hear everything Kincaid has ever written. The Diabolic was not a singular strike of luck. SJ Kincaid may very well be on the way to becoming one of my favorite authors. As it stands now, this series has already claimed its place on my virtual “Favorites” shelf and in my heart.

Narration review: My previous enjoyment of Candace Thaxton’s performance was something else I needed to reaffirm while hearing The Empress, because it had been 12 months since my last experience with her narration of this series. I most recently heard her perform The Last Magician in August (which I enjoyed immensely), but The Diabolic series requires the use of a different set of skills, particularly when voicing the main character.

Right off the bat, I remembered how pleasing her vocal tone was to my ears. Some people just have voices you like listening to, you know? Further in, I noted that her interpretation of Nemesis’ voice was spot-on. Such an accurate interpretation deeply enhanced my understanding of the character. I also noted that Nemesis sounded more human in this installment, which was extremely appropriate. ♣︎

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