Desert Isle Keeper
In the fall of 2016, I fell in love with Glitter, the first book in an exciting and unique duology by Aprilynne Pike. It’s a story set in the not-too-distant future featuring a young woman who is determined not to become the next queen of Versailles. The historic palace has been bought by a corporation and is inhabited by shareholders who have managed to bring back all the traditions of the royal courts of old. Of course, they’ve made a few enhancements, mostly in terms of technology, to ensure every comfort is theirs for the taking. It’s a fascinating concept, one that resonated with my own fantasies of living life as a great court lady, and so as you might imagine, I was beyond eager to get my hands on a review copy of Shatter, the follow-up to Glitter.
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Glitter, I urge you to do so before reading this review, as it will contain spoilers. This is a series that absolutely must be read in order.
Shatter picks up right where the previous book leaves off. Despite all her efforts, our heroine, Dani, finds herself married to the man who holds the most shares in Versailles, a power-hungry young man named Justin who will stop at nothing to keep the title of King. She never wanted to be Queen, but Justin was determined to claim her as his wife, and Dani, in spite of an enormous amount of scheming, wasn’t able to escape his clutches. She had her escape meticulously planned out, but a last minute betrayal by a man she thought she could trust sent her back to square one. Now, Dani needs to come up with a new plan to free herself and the man she loves from Versailles.
At first, Dani is determined to do everything possible to avoid being Queen. She doesn’t want to ally herself with Justin and his cronies and would much rather spend her time devising a new escape plan, but a wise friend tells her she’d be better off embracing all the power and privilege the title of Queen has to offer. After a bit of inner debate, Dani realizes the wisdom of this advice, and throws herself wholeheartedly into ruling the court. Dani as Queen is a frightening thing to behold. We caught a glimpse of her ruthless streak in the first book, and she really grows into it here. Some readers might be turned off by her willingness to do absolutely anything to get what she wants, but I actually found it quite refreshing. Dani is no shrinking violet, and I for one am glad of that.
In the first book, Dani developed a drug-infused cosmetic product known as Glitter that she sold to all the fashionable women of the court. It worked like a dream. Everyone Dani knows is well and truly addicted to the substance, and Dani is certain it will serve as her ticket out of Versailles. Sure, her father is one of the casualties of her invention and it pains her to see the damage the drug has done to both his body and his mind, but she has gone too far to turn back. Now, she’s determined to find a way to continue selling the product to her courtiers, despite the interference of Reginald, the man who thwarted her great escape at the end of book one.
As time goes by, Dani realizes that the power afforded to her by her title is nearly as addictive as Glitter itself. Is it something she’ll really be able to give up when the time is right, or will she abandon herself to the glitz and glamor of Versailles? And what about her relationship with Justin? In book one, Justin was a loathsome character, someone Dani was desperate to avoid at all costs. He’s certainly no saint here, but neither is Dani. Is it possible that the two of them will actually be able to form a partnership that will benefit them both?
Dani’s scenes with Justin are some of the very best parts of the book, and their banter is really smart and edgy. Obviously, I wanted Dani to get free of the palace walls, but I must admit to feeling a tiny bit of sadness at the thought of her leaving Justin behind. The two of them are alike in so many ways, and part of me really wanted to see what a true alliance between them would look like.
Saver’s (and yes, his name really does include the apostrophe), the man Dani loves, is the weakest part of the novel. He’s a slave, owned by Dani’s betrayer, and she’s desperate to rescue him. There was quite a bit of chemistry between them in the previous book, but here, Saver’s pales beside Justin. He spends most of his time scolding Dani for her choices, and while I sometimes agreed with his overall view of events, I didn’t care much for his sanctimonious attitude. Day after day, Dani risks her life in order to free him from slavery, and he doesn’t even seem very grateful. He’s incredibly judgmental about her tactics, and there are quite a few times I wanted Dani to just give up on him altogether. Any kind of spark they had in the first book seems to have disappeared in this installment.
Shatter is sure to appeal to readers who like their books a bit soap-opera-ish and it’s full of all the scandal, backstabbing, and over the top court intrigue you could possibly want. It doesn’t pretend to be high-brow literature, and I’m grateful for that. I enjoy serious books as much as the next person, but there’s always room for the kind of unadulterated fun Shatter brings to the table. It’s a truly satisfying conclusion to a delightful duology, and I urge you to pick it up at your earliest convenience.