Hayley’s Review of “Rising Depths” by Madeline Stanford

By: Hayley Green

Rising Depths is the second book in the Vicious Depths trilogy by Madeline Stanford. It is a young adult dystopian fantasy that I have fallen in love with since I read the first book while it was still titled Like Hell on Wattpad. That was before Stanford took it down to self-publish the series.

Warning: If you haven’t read the first book, this review contains spoilers for that book. Don’t read ahead if you don’t want to know what happens in the first book.

Now that Alex has been exposed as a traitor and she and Flynn have escaped to the Azure, she is looked to by the residents to figure out a way to defend themselves against the oncoming slaughter the Depths are planning. The Senatus members and Seth are still locked up in the depths, and the Azure is split between loyalists for Attis’s rule and those who want a new order. Even the Sentaus have committed crimes, lied, and betrayed their own residents. Things escalate as incriminating evidence against the Senatus is found, Samuel starts sending threats to the Azure with Isaac’s body parts, and the war looms nearer.

With equal parts romance, violence, and betrayal, Stanford weaves a gripping continuation of the story she began in Vicious Depths. You learn surprising new things about each of the secondary characters, and continue to fall in love with Flynn and Alex’s relationship, despite all the hardship they have been through.

What I like about the relationship she creates between Flynn and Alex is that it’s real. When transgressions happen, the forgiveness isn’t immediately doled out. Even when facing death, they admit they love each other but they haven’t forgiven each other yet. It paints a realistic picture of relationships that is hard to find in most YA fiction today, especially in similar genres, with the notable exception of Four and Tris in Divergent.

This book is intense. I can’t handle a lot of intensity at one time, so I often had to take breaks from this book during the particularly violent parts. I found myself going straight back to the book the next day just to see how it ended.

These books are self-published, and therefore have the British spelling and single quotes around dialogue, but that is easy to get used to once you get hooked on the story. The editing is truly well done.

Be on the look-out for my review of the third and final book in the series Burning Depths.

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