Things, sadly, went downhill in this one. All pros of the first book are either ignored or tainted.
We start with a sudden, "dramatic" leap forward from where we left off. Our heroine is dropping names and mentioning about how they threaten the life of...McKenna.
They named their daughter McKenna.
As in, the given name.
And it's not that it has some special meaning, like the various Fangirl-Japanese names that are thrown around. Just...McKenna.
Anyway, back to the sudden skip. It appears we are supposed to jump directly into the drama and save infodumps for later. There are a lot of new people we have never seen before. Things that have never been hinted at are happening.
Remember out refreshing mythology from the book one? It got completely muddled. We have a surprising new guardian out of nowhere. Swords are spirits are gods are keepers are a major headache. And then there is the whole conundrum with dark and light half of our heroine, which are alternatively completely different persons and merely two parts of a whole, depending on what needs to be angsted about at the moment. There is a completely new, previously-unhinted-at major McGuffin just because. I guess you could argue antagonists have their own mythology, but it feels completely separate from Keepers.
One of very few interesting aspects - a forbidden love between two minor characters - did not get explored enough. The "forbidden love" that did get explored...falls in the same pit as the most of both books. What needs to happen will happen. Dessa suddenly feels lust whenever in the presence of another man. Little is said about any emotional development - though, granted, the main romance didn't have any either. In the end, she is forgiven. Perhaps easily, but the circumstances were extraordinary. Still, it didn't serve as anything but a vehicle for cheap drama and a few convenient plot twists.
And once again, a completely sensible action is presented as Dessa's greatest wrong. She is - reasonably - angry that people are keeping secrets from her. We are never presented with any reason they aren't giving her vital information. We are told she needs to find out herself, but there is no actual explanation why. Not even "if she doesn't, something bad will happen". Nothing. Even if there was a reason like that, she still has every right to feel frustrated with them for keeping silent. But it's treated as a bad thing and overreaction. It's presented as worse than her infidelity.
And it all ends with a cliffhanger. (Though this time around it's at least hinted at what will happen.)
If you liked the first book, you'll probably like this one. But if you weren't pleased, don't look for major improvements.
I received a copy of this book via Goodreads First Reads.