Somewhat to my disappointment, the second book of the Benevolence trilogy doesn’t expand on any of the gaps I felt in the previous book. Instead, it moves away from Benevolence for a while, as Emily and Isabella attend traditional Imbolc festivities. The world is expanded in terms of showing us more locations, more kinds of magic, and more of Isabella’s friends and family. It also gives us more time with the couple, as their relationship deepens — though it has been a bit insta-love. Still, for once it’s a lesbian couple having insta-love, and they’re cute, so why not? We can make exceptions, right?
It also features the tragic love story of a long-dead abbess and a knight, who are reunited through Isabella and Emily’s efforts. That part is a bit, well, flowery, but it works.
The scenes Bishop describes glitter with the winter cold and the warmth of friendship; that aspect is definitely done really well. I’m still curious about various aspects of the first story, and I’m also beginning to be very curious about Alice, Isabella’s cat familiar. She’s just been a sidekick so far, but there are hints at an inner life and outside personality for her, and I want it.