Book Review: Catalyst (Pandemonium #2)

Title: Catalyst

Author: Willow Anderson

Pub. Date: September 1, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

With Pandemonium’s chaos fractured, Lace and the rightful Ringmaster set out to find the silver card, which can make it whole again. After nothing but dead-end clues, the magic splinters more than ever, and the show begins to die—that is, until a woman arrives with a shred of hope claiming she knows where the card is.

Traveling to the country Lace fears the most, the performers find themselves in Dryston, where the ember of optimism they had allowed themselves to embrace is quickly extinguished. As the woman reveals herself to be Princess Kristine, Erik’s sister, it quickly becomes plain she is burning for revenge. With Caspian her captive, the princess releases him into Lace’s care only to reveal a sick twist. Lace will once again participate as a winner in the show with the ex-Ringmaster as her partner—only this time, the prize they will compete for is their very lives.

Reality is deception, and deception is blind… 

This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you so much to Willow for granting me an early copy for this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it! You can check out my review of Pandemonium here.

So, I spent the majority of this book utterly torn between Killian and Caspian.

And I mean, utterly torn.

This book doesn’t disappoint, and Willow has you completely enthralled and continuously turning the page to find out what happens next. The magic, mystery and mayhem that was introduced in Pandemonium is wilder, darker, more dangerous. Stakes are higher, feelings and emotions are strung taut and the fate of Pandemonium hangs in the balance. This book felt like a mixture of Catching Fire, Where Dreams Descend, and the Under the Mountain trials in A Court of Thorns and Roses. It has betrayal, love, conflicting feelings, life and death moments and so much tension.

Now, I’m a sucker for the “villain” to get a happy ending, to find love, to love and be love, and I’m all for it. I also love a good guy, so you can imagine just how torn I was between Killian and Caspian. Like, I just wanted Lace to be with both of them.

Monogamy be damned.

There were moments I wanted to throttle Killian, and I wanted Lace to choose Caspian, but ultimately, I just can’t decide who I like more. The Good Guy with a heart of Gold who would bend over backwards to give Lace the world – or the morally grey Bad Guy, who’s darkness calls out for Lace and he would burn the world down if it meant protecting her. I mean, how the hell are you supposed to choose!

I can’t. I won’t. Again, utterly and completely torn

I also love Lace in this book. A lot has change for her, and she takes it in stride, becoming a part of Pandemonium. The challenges she has to face, and how she chooses to face them – I was kind of reminded of Feyre in ACOTAR. Lace quickly assess the playing field and utilizes her own abilities to try and win. Lace was like burning embers. She burned steadily, a soft glow that refused to go out. She’s determined to win. So, when I got to the ending, and read how it all played out, I was like, hell yes! The ending is so satisfying and so infuriating – in like the best way possible. It’s a good ending. Also, I was a tad torn because – my boys. *sobs*

But, I’m so glad she made the decision best for her.

I’m assuming with the way the book ended, that there’s another one, a book 3? I’m only guessing since Goodreads has no confirmation either way, but I’m totally on board for a third book. The world Willow created was just starting to expand in this book and I’m so curious as to how it’ll impact Lace’s story. I’m also really interested in how these new powerful characters are going to come into play. We only just got introduced tot hem, and I have a feeling that they’re going to be crucial for whatever battle is still to come. The fight to save Pandemonium is on.

Like with Pandemonium, Catalyst comes to life in your mind, and I had absolutely no problem envisioning everything that was happening. I just really love this world. 

Oh, Kristine was awful. Narratively, she made a great antagonist, but I wanted to punch the bitch basically the whole book. She sucked. I found myself just wanting to see her die, so we could move on. She just made me so mad. But again, narratively, she was brilliant. 

I loved Victoria and the rest of the people Lace surrounds herself with – her chosen family. I love that they have her back no matter what, even when Killian seems lost. They all care for each other, take care of each other – it’s wonderful. 

I honestly think this book is better than Pandemonium and I loved that book. This was just wholly so good, and I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. I’m really hoping there’s a third book, because I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. I have a feeling that things are going to continue to get worse before they get better and I want to see that. Willow outdid herself with this book and I think anyone who read Pandemonium will not be disappointed with this second installment.

This series has easily become a favorite and I will be telling all my friends to read it – and hopefully this review and my review for Pandemonium have convinced you to pick this series up. If you’re a fan of romance, hidden identities, mystery, seductive carnivals, life or death trials, stolen and not so unrequited love, and a power that transcends the people who wield it, then you really should check out this series. You’ll enjoy it!

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