The Essence, by Kimberly Derting.
Released January 1, 2013.
"At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.
Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.
As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within."
If you've followed me through this blog for a while, you know how big of a fan I am of Kimberly Derting and her stories! I love them and I just can't get enough! The Essence is the second installment in The Pledge trilogy, and after enjoying the first book as much as I did, I had not other option but to pick it up.
(If you want to read my review of The Pledge, click HERE.)
The Essence takes place just a while after The Pledge ends. Charlie is now Queen, and in charge of an entire Queendom. She has a lot of things she want to change, and new laws she wants to instill, but that isn't as easy as it sounds, even though she is the Queen. There are rebels going against her, who want things to go back to the way they were, and who are willing and ready to fight.
Besides dealing with these rebellions, all of the laws Charlie wants to create, the child slave camps she wants to get rid of, and actually learning how to be a Queen, she is also dealing with something....or rather someone else.
This someone else is the previous Queen and tyrant Sabara, who's soul is residing within Charlie. Charlie can hear all of her thoughts, can understand her talking, and can even feel some of her powers. The same powers Sabara used to hurt and kill her very own people.
Charlie has a lot of lost time to make up when it comes to her Queendom; people are divided, children are enslaved, people are falsely imprisoned, the society as a whole is very far behind in technology and production.
Charlie has a lot on her plate, a lot of people depending on her, and she knows she can't do it alone. So when she's invited to a conference with a handful of Queens from local Queendoms Charlie decides to attend, in the hopes of finding allies, who are willing to trade.
One of her biggest goals was to open schools, and allow any children to attend any school, to learn any trait. Charlie wants them to have the freedom of choosing their own career, instead of being stuck doing the same thing their parents did. When she finally has the opportunity to make this dream become reality, Charlie is there to see it all happen, to make a speech, to watch the children walk into the school building for the first time...and later the rebellion that wants to shatter her dream.
The school is bombed, before the first day of school is completed. The building is ruined, and children are seriously injured and killed. After this attack, family and friends are advising Charlie to stay within the castle, but she is more determined than ever, to go to this conference, find allies, and make big and better changes for her Queendom.
Overall, I would consider The Essence a stepping stone into the third book.
"Yes! Obviously Lisa, its the second book!"
I know, I know. But The Essence wasn't as exciting, or as shocking, and didn't completely keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was a stepping stone I enjoyed and felt was needed. We, as the readers, needed to see Charlie take her place on the throne, and we also needed to see that doing so, wasn't easy.
And that cliffhanger at the end?! Like what?! That perfectly led us up to the third and final book!
Just like The Pledge, I loved The Essence. The entire idea of a nation being run strictly by a first born girl in the royal line, who has superhuman powers, is intriguing. Then we also aren't overwhelmed by romance, and the entire story isn't outshined by a relationship, which I can honestly say was the best part! Yes, there was a little here and there, but for more than 85% of the book it was on the back burner and I loved it!
If you haven't started this trilogy yet, you need to! It's amazing!