Author: A.M. Sexton
Pages/Word Count: 324 Pages
At a Glance: Every bit the exciting conclusion that the blurb promises.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: The exciting conclusion to Release
Fire rages through Davlova in the wake of a bloody revolution. The tyrannical upper class has been overthrown. In the midst of the chaos, Misha and Ayo escape on Miguel Donato’s boat and flee across the sea to the distant city of Deliphine.
All his life, Misha has dreamed of leaving Davlova behind, but now the only thing he wants to do is go home. He has no idea if the city still stands or how many of his friends have survived. But before he can return to Davlova and find his place in the wrecked landscape of the trenches, he’ll have to face a new threat in Deliphine – the Dollhouse.
Even in Deliphine, most people think the Dollhouse is a myth, but Misha knows the truth. The Dollhouse is real. It’s ruthless. It has an agenda.
And now, it wants Ayo back.
Review: When I read Release – the first book in the Davlova series by A.M. Sexton – it completely rocked me. So, when I saw a few weeks ago that the sequel, Return, had a release date at last, I was alllll over it. I even re-read Release in anticipation, as there is a lot to the story, and I wanted to make sure everything was fresh. I was so glad I did; it was just as good as I remembered. Dark. So very dark. Intense and heartbreaking and just absolutely gripping. With Return, Sexton picks up exactly where Release left off, so you had better buckle up because the ride is on.
After fleeing from the only home he has ever known, Misha arrives in Deliphine with Ayo. He is incredibly happy to have saved Ayo but is also still devastated over the death of Donato, understandably struggling with both the loss and the fact that he was the one to actually take Miguel’s life. Sexton once again does an amazing job of connecting the reader to the characters. I felt both Misha’s pain and anguish, and Ayo’s anger and disbelief at Misha’s mourning. Ayo never saw the amount of tenderness in their master that Misha did. He only knows that his painful existence as a creation of the Dollhouse is because of the evil desires and requests of Donato.
Deliphine turns out to be nothing like what Misha expected. Instead of the fresh start of their dreams, they find the port city to be just as divided and messed up as Davlova was, if not even more backward and filthy. On top of which, Ayo also immediately starts to feel a tug from his chip to return to his maker. Having gotten the name of a surgeon in Deliphine, one of Donato’s connections, Misha and Ayo pay him a visit to see if they can get any help in having Ayo’s chip deactivated. Unfortunately, the doctor is unable to operate, out of fear of falling under the wrath of the Dollhouse, leaving them back at square one. Fighting Ayo’s program on their own proves exhausting and impossible, however, and they end up being taken in by the Dollhouse, interrogated, and then mysteriously released.
I enjoyed the first section of the book, when they are in Deliphine, particularly the fantastic discussions between Misha and Dr. Gideon regarding the moral implications of the neural implants, and whether it makes a difference if the person receives it willingly or not (as a philosophy major, I geeked out on those thoughts quite a bit). But, the story really started to pick up for me when Misha and Ayo return to Davlova. The descriptions of the ravaged city and the events that took place during and after Misha’s escape were at times brutal and shocking. The author pulled zero punches when describing what people are capable of during war. Misha is horrified by the things he sees and hears upon arriving back home and reuniting with some of his friends.
As in the first book, there is plenty of action and political intrigue, as well as raw emotion – the connection between Misha and Ayo is quite beautiful as it develops – and sex. But, the thing that I like most about Return is that it was Misha’s book to shine. I love where Sexton takes his character, from a street-smart thief and sometime whore, to a confident, fierce, smart man, who will do whatever it takes to protect his lover and, ultimately, help reshape and rebuild his city. Being a hero looks good on him. The other thing that made this sequel stand apart from the first book is that there was a bit more levity mixed in with the darkness. I would definitely still describe the story as dark overall – but there were a few more moments of joy and lighter scenes to help balance it out.
This book was a bit slower than the first book in the beginning, and a tiny bit repetitive in places, but it definitely ended up being every bit the exciting conclusion that the blurb promises. I would still proceed with caution regarding the heavy nature of the content, and it’s a must to read Release first, but if you’re looking for something different and something exciting that you can sink your teeth into, I absolutely recommend this one.
You can buy Return here: