Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Series: Network, Book 3
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches, Paranormal, Magic
Courting Leda would be like trying to cuddle a porcupine. (Bianca’s musings, Chapter 36).
The High Priest’s Daughter takes place right where Antebellum Awakening left off, the war of the Networks becoming more and more of a reality and Bianca struggling to protect everyone and everything she cares about. Bianca has to struggle with living a life based on more than just surviving for the first time in her life, and it’s harder for her to do than she would have thought.
While in no way the main plot of this story, I love the way in which Cross writes her romances. Each one is different and unique, pulling on Cross’ ability to writer dynamic characters in order to shape the ways in which their relationships progress. I’m not only talking about romantic relationships with that, either. The ways that Bianca and her friends grow as individuals greatly influences their interactions with each other and I, for one, am living for it.
Bianca’s dedication to her friends and family is a driving force of this story. This found family of hers is the one thing she knows she can trust in, even if they’re growing up. It is the one thing she’ll protect at all cost.
If you’re looking for a unique tale about witches, I highly recommend giving this series a try. It’s filled with mystery, intrigue, and one of the most complex magic systems I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning about. The dragons that exist in this world are a favourite of mine, as well. Of course, you should start off with the first book, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls (review here) if you haven’t already picked it up.
I love how vehemently Bianca denies flirting with Merrick throughout this novel, even though it’s obvious to the reader that’s exactly what’s happening. Of course, Bianca doesn’t realize that she has a crush on him for quite a while or that her fluttering heart might actually mean something. After living so many years just trying to survive, it makes sense that Bianca doesn’t truly know how to live – or love.
I also think it’s adorable how much Derek doesn’t like the attention that Merrick is giving Bianca. He knows that Merrick has a thing for Bianca and that Bianca has a thing for Merrick – even if she keeps denying it to the world. Knowing exactly the kind of life that Merrick will lead means that Derek knows exactly what he’s worried that Bianca would be living through, but knowing Bianca he should know that she’s strong enough to deal with it. Of course, it’s hard to accept your baby girl is growing up.
It’s got to be hard for Bianca, not understanding her feelings for Merrick and yet being so against her friends growing up and finding love. I know that she needed to focus on just surviving for a long time, but she does need to learn that there’s more to life than just living in the moment. Sure it’s going to be a hard switch for Bianca to make, but it’ll be good for her in the long run. Part of her has to be happy that her friends are finding happiness in such hard times, that part is just buried deep under her insecurities about losing more people that she loves.
Not to mention the fact that when Bianca finally starts realizing that Merrick might be more than her best friend Derek admits that he ordered them away from each other. Not having actual children myself, and not living in a state of war, I can only attempt to imagine the terror Derek feels over potentially losing his daughter in any way. Sure he likes Merrick, but that doesn’t mean that this overprotective Papa Bear is going to be able to accept his only child growing up and finding love.
As a sort of surrogate father to Merrick, I can also understand why he doesn’t want Merrick to give up his ambitions over a girl – not even his own daughter. He knows the life that he’s led which means he knows what Merrick could end up being. He knows how hard it would be on both Merrick and whoever Merrick ended up loving if traditions were to be changed and he were to be allowed to become the head of Protectors and have a family. But really, Merrick is a strong person – and so is Bianca – so they’d be able to get through it all together.
It breaks my heart the most to think that Derek is losing Bianca by trying to protect her. I can’t imagine losing my father this way, having him sort of be there but not being able to talk to him. To knowing that you have stuff you want to tell him yet not being able to get the words out. He’s trying to protect her and keep her safe but all he’s really doing is pushing her away and undermining the trust that they held for each other. It hurts imagining someone I love being there yet not being able to actually talk to them, to not know what to say. I can only hope that in War of the Networks Bianca and Derek are able to reconcile their differences – and that Derek can accept that his little girl doesn’t need to be kept in a bubble.
I have to admit, having someone speak in my mind – in my dreams – doesn’t sound like a good thing to me. Sure, it can be used as a way to secretly communicate with someone, but there’s a reason it’s considered to be dark magic. It’s terrifying to think that while you’re asleep, while you’re at your most vulnerable, someone is able to get into your mind and manipulate what you’re experiencing. I shiver at the thought.
I must also admit that I still feel bad for Marten. Of course his life with Mildred wasn’t conventional. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good life. They loved each other, it was stupid traditions that kept them from being open about their affections for each other. I’m glad that Marten can talk to Bianca about stuff like that should he so choose. Having someone to share your heartache with is so much better than having to suffer alone.
And when the Networks are finally at war Bianca is able to step up and fill in for Marten while he’s working at the front lines. Part of me hopes that this means Bianca has finally figured out what she wants to do with the rest of her life but another part of me worries that she’s not even going to be able to survive long enough to realize this goal.
The fact that Marten is able to treat Bianca like family, to trust her implicitly in the middle of a war, makes my heart smile. They both needed someone to rely on and they found each other. Sure they’re both extremely busy with everything a war entails, but they still continue to make sure that the other is okay. They’re always there if the other needs a listening ear – which is extremely important for Bianca at the moment since she feels as if she can’t talk to her own father about things.
One of the things I love most about Cross’ writing is how, even when she leaves clues, she’s still able to surprise me with her reveals. I really didn’t expect Isobel to end up being Angelina. The way in which she used Bianca’s “friendship” and her “declining health” in order to get ahead in the war was brilliantly evil. She always knew exactly where to hit hardest because Bianca was constantly telling her what she was most worried about. It must be hard for Bianca, having her trust broken so many times.
It was pretty smart of Angelina to get Bianca to trade Miss Mabel for Derek – and even smarter for Isadora to get Bianca to bind Miss Mabel into killing her mother. The ending of this novel has me shaking in my boots and I can’t wait to pick up the final book in the series. My oh my does Cross know how to write a cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see how Bianca and her crew deal with everything and (hopefully) end the war, saving the Central Network. They certainly have their work cut out for them.
A part of me is hoping that the magical connection between Bianca and Letum Wood is going to help Bianca win this war. That might be my favourite piece of the magical system in this world – the forest’s ability to help when it so chooses. It seems to be able to sense that Bianca belongs to it, the same way that Bianca constantly feels the call of the woods. With this magic unknown by most witches, Bianca might actually stand a chance of defeating the new Almorran Master.
Other reviews in the series: