Crimson Wind is the second book in Diana Pharaoh Francis’ Horngate Witches series. It’s a good continuation with the same breathless action, enjoyable characters, and tense plot line. Book two might not be quite as strong as the opening, but it’s an enjoyable followup that keeps the story moving and leaves you ready for book three.
The book picks up right where Bitter Night left off. Max and Alexander are dealing with the fallout of the battle at Horngate and the dangerous plan of the Guardians. Giselle is only one of two surviving witches and even many of Max’s powerful Shadowblades were lost in the battle. The world is in a state of chaos and they’re trying to rebuild and prep for what comes next. This definitely makes it a fast opening that draws you back into the world as if you’d never left it.
Once you’re back, Ms. Francis immediately gives you the journey that you’ll follow for the rest of the book. Max’s family is in trouble and it’s up to Max and Alexander to go rescue them and bring them back to Horngate for safekeeping. The rescue mission sets the tone for the remainder of the story and you know from the get-go this is going to be a book that dives into Max’s past and reveals why she is the way she is.
Max is the same old Max in Crimson Wind and that’s a good thing. She’s still tough as nails, with hints of vulnerability, and she’s an enjoyable main character. Just like with book one, you get a lot of Max’s internal struggle. There are a lot of changes going on in her life and her world, and Max is not one of those characters who handles change well. You feel for her throughout the book and wish that you could help and make things better.
Alexander also gets his own spotlight within the book. You’re introduced to his “sister” and a little bit of his own history. To be honest though, Alexander always just feels like a foil for Max. His side quest and history don’t really seem to play a big role in the world. It would have been just as appropriate to not have Alexander’s story at all and to focus completely on Max and her relationship with Alexander. However, I still enjoy Alexander even if he comes across as the more feminine one in the relationship.
Max and Alexander, as a couple, once again take center stage in this book. Unfortunately, their relationship has not grown or changed much from book one. While Alexander has accepted his love for Max and fully committed himself to her, Max is still unsure and unwilling to give them a chance. This is a recurring relationship issue and one that does not seem to make much progress. Since the romance is not the main plot or point to the book, this is okay, but it can be frustrating as you wait for a little more growth.
It felt a little weird to make an entire book away from Horngate on a personal quest for Max. There are so many other bigger things happening in the world, and it seemed like the plot should have focused on keeping Horngate protected and not Max’s family. The task almost seemed too small for an entire novel and so there were quite a few “filler” scenes.
The ending is a cliff-hanger. Yes, this is common for the second book in a series, but I’m not a huge fan. The cliff-hanger sets up the entire scope of book three, which definitely makes you want to buy the next book, but if you’re not enjoying the direction, may be off-putting.
Overall, it’s a good followup to the first book. Character growth is lacking but the world is definitely intriguing and on a path of destruction that keeps you on the edge of your seat.