**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD**
All of my initial reservations about this book disappeared as soon as I started reading it. I loved seeing immediately in to Salome's life with Gareth in the Faerie realm. It was like a glimpse at "happily ever after" until Nevin had to show up and burst that beautiful bubble. But before that, we see a glimpse of the past where Salome's grandma is actually hiding a girl for the Faerie Queen that the queen bestows all of her powers in. Your inference that the girl is actually Salome isn't ever actually confirmed, but it's almost as good as confirmed over the course of the story and, especially, that first chapter where Doris (the grandma) is telling the real stories to little Salome and little Kadie, but the stories are actually based in truth.
Clearly, not everything ended happily at the end of The Winter People, although I didn't want to believe that. There was still turmoil in Faerie, which is probably one of the reasons a sequel was in order. The Winter Kingdom is still trying to take over everything and the Summer Kingdom is the only other one still standing - Autumn and Spring having already fallen to Winter. Nevin is king of Summer and Gareth is one of their best warriors, so Salome can't get out of Faerie trouble. That and Winter is still hellbent on killing her. Fun.
Meanwhile, Salome's best friend Kadie is returning from college for Thanksgiving with the plans of making this stay at home permanent. She followed her high school boyfriend to Texas and he ended up cheating on her. Of course, when Kadie returns home, something isn't quite right at her house. So she goes to Salome's where things are even weirder. She gets turned away at the door, and then gets a text "from Salome" that she's at this club and had a fight with Gareth (totally not true because Salome is off in Faerie trying to save Summer). So Kadie goes to the club and ends up getting kidnapped and dragged to Winter where she's held prisoner for information about Gareth and Salome and Summer.
Kadie is forced to spend her first night in Winter in the Red Room (which immediately reminded me of Fifty Shades of Grey). In the Red Room, it's really decorated with human body parts such as skin and bones (completely grossed, but I honestly loved it). So Kadie runs out of the room and comes face to face with a tree that is actually Salome's father. So let's throw it back to the time in The Winter People where Salome's dad hit her. Yeah, apparently that was not her dad. That was a Fae disguised as him, while her dad was really in Winter being turned into the tree. That piece of the story has yet to be fully explained, but her dad does die because Kadie puts him out of his misery towards the end of the story.
While Kadie is being held prisoner and having Etionne, one of the Winter Princes, take care of her and is probably the only reason she survived as long as she did with that mouth of hers, Salome is traveling to Summer with Gareth. First, they pick up some weapons in the ruins of Spring and a sword of the four kingdoms chooses Salome (major foreshadowing here). As they continue on, the run into some former soldiers of Spring and Salome is hearing voices. There's so much going on!
Trolls attack Gareth and Salome and Gareth sends Salome on ahead for safety with her horse that protects virgins. Why was this relevant? I mean, it did save her ass in the end, however. While trying to stay safe, Salome runs into ghosts that are tied to the ruins she's hiding in. They say she's the only one who can save them and we start to get this whole chosen one thing going on. I liked how in the first book, you didn't feel this, but it's okay that we do now.
Nevin shows up to save Salome. Gareth is still fighting off the trolls, and while Salome is rightfully worried, Nevin keeps trying to get her to calm down and it feels kind of sketchy and like he has ulterior motives. Gareth shows back up and everything is currently fine for Salome. Not so much for Kadie who's resilience has gotten her work in the Bone Yard. Basically in the Bone Yard, they separate the bones from the skin and muscles and blood. I found myself asking why all this darkness was necessary, but the answer was just that it made it more interesting. It shows how dark Winter really is and, let's be honest, who doesn't love a little gore?
Back in Summer, Nevin drops the bomb that he needs a queen so that the magic in Summer is more powerful than the magic in Winter. He wants his queen to be Salome. Like really? She already has Gareth and is like in love with him. Why does he have to complicate things!? But shockingly, it's not because he has secret feelings for her and wants to steal her from Gareth (because that just would have been too much for me). He actually has only loved once in his life and it was the King of Autumn. Awesome.
So everything is all crazy and twisted and Kadie is fighting for her life, Salome is dodging attempts on her life as well, and I'm starting to wonder what is this going to boil down to. The Winter Queen befriends Kadie (completely weird, but I see where it's going) and asks her to kill Salome. Etionne escorts Kadie to Summer so she can do her job and while Kadie is blood bound to the Winter Queen, she kind of has no choice. Etionne runs away to go and try to fight to save Faerie, and somehow Salome survives a dagger to the heart. Salome becomes Summer Queen, but also has the markings to be queen of all the other kingdoms (I am set in my inference that it's because she has the Faerie Queen's magic in her and only that reason), saves Gareth after he almost dies on one of Nevin's missions, and that happily ever after I loved so much from the first book is completely shot out the window.
So, basically, I had only a few qualms with this book and here they are: Kadie just accepts this Faerie-ness way too easily and quickly, and at one point she actually just states that she's in Winter and I was like "how do you know" with a bajillion question marks after it; I did not like how Kadie became all self-centered and tried to kill Salome because I thought she had more willpower than that (note: this is not a comment on the story or choices, just personal opinion I had while reading); and I don't really understand how Salome came back to life?
However, there is much praise I have for this book. Bringing in the other fae made it way more interesting. It still kept the darkness I loved from the first book even though they were in the sparkly faerie realm. Salome is slowly becoming a badass and I love it. And at least Gareth and Salome get to still be together even though Salome is married to Nevin and Queen of Summer.
I cannot wait to figure out how all of this plays out in the next installment. Hopefully that book comes out soon...
Hope you enjoyed this review! Please leave comments!