Title: Headlines & Hydras (Terra Haven Chronicles #2)
Author: Rebecca Chastain
Publisher: Mind Your Muse
Publication date: May 18, 2021
One Sentence Summary: Junior journalist Kylie’s real identity has come out, and her debt to harpy Zipporah has come due, all while her parents face a theft at their transportation company, and Kylie will do anything to clear their names.
I’m so excited to have gotten the chance to review this one! Headlines & Hydras was one of my most anticipated reads this year. I fell in love with Kylie, Quinn, and Grant last year in the prequel and first book, Leads & Lynxes, and could not wait for the next one. Kylie makes me think of an older Nancy Drew with magic, so it was easy to fall in love with her and all the magic and mythical creatures makes my heart sigh with contentment.
Headlines & Hydras is a worthy sequel to the first book. Not only is every detail, every characterization perfectly consistent, but the characters and their relationships grow and deepen, and the overarching mystery becomes an even more tangled mess. The world is also vividly broadened, bringing everything from opulent estates to the deadly home of dangerous creatures. The mystery in this book was a little too easy, but there are more questions about the overarching mystery that just makes everything more puzzling and complicated. Headlines & Hydras not only delivers the fantasy, mystery, and romance, but it also tightens the overarching story, preparing for what I think could only be an incredible, potentially explosive ending.
Headlines & Hydras picks up right after the events of the first book, Leads & Lynxes. Not only has Kylie’s real identity been outed, by her journalistic nemesis no less, but the theft from the first book is only the first in a string. And it all leads back to Kylie’s parents’ transportation company, Airstrong, who shipped all the stolen items.
Kylie’s life gets a lot more complicated. Not only is she dealing with the ramifications for having kept her real identity a secret, but she’s also thrust back into the life she willingly left while no one believes her. A twisted trap seems to be springing around her, and she’s desperate to prove she and her parents are innocent. Oh, and the harpy she still owes? She wants more stolen, forbidden objects, or Kylie might have to pay with her life.
There are so many reasons why I’m in love with the Terra Haven Chronicles. From the strong, spunky female lead to one of the most adorable creature companions to the mystery and the magic and romance, this series literally has everything I adore across multiple genres.
What I love best, though, are the characters. Kylie is like an all grown up version of Nancy Drew with magic. She’s smart, spunky, doggedly pursues a story, and has no problems leaping into danger. Provided, of course, her two favorite male companions are with her. Quinn is her young gargoyle companion and I could not love him more. He’s young, so sometimes comes across as adorably childish, but he’s so protective and loyal it just melts my heart. Then there’s Kylie’s love interest, Captain Grant Monaghan of the Federal Pentagon Defense. Not only is he very physically attractive, but he’s also smart, protective, capable, and completely understands keeping Kylie from a story is pointless.
While I love the relationship between Kylie and Quinn, I adore the romance in this series. In this second book, things warm up considerably, but it never overtakes the story. Kylie and Grant have their moments, and they’re so sweet and fun and I just want more. But they’re also balanced by serious matters and a complete understanding of each other and their professional needs and goals. They’re a well-balanced duo teetering on the edge of friends and lovers, and I love every minute of it.
I really liked how Headlines & Hydras really tightened up the overall story. It was a little hard to tell what direction everything was headed in from the first book, but the second book, instead of suffering from the middle book syndrome, really starts to pull the threads together. I loved how Kylie’s personal and professional lives clashed and all the consequences she had to deal with. It sometimes felt like one thing after another, but it also showcased just how strong and resilient Kylie is. What initially felt like disparate threads became a veritable knot with secrets and questions at every turn.
The Terra Haven Chronicles appear to be revolving around, not just individual mysteries in each book that contribute to the overarching one, but also mysteries deftly woven through the whole series to really turn it into a cohesive whole. They make the series seem like one, big ongoing story divided into separate parts. There were times when one was more present than the others and times when I almost forgot about them, but Chastain very skillfully brought them each back in throughout the book.
As for the individual mystery in Headlines & Hydras, my single criticism is it was a little too easy and short. Most of the story focused on the ramifications of Kylie hiding her true identity and place in society, though I did enjoy her painful foray back into it, leaving little room for her to solve the mystery of who took a batch of banned spells and their location. The mystery solving doesn’t really ramp up until the second half and was seemingly “solved” so early I’m not sure if it can really accurately be called a mystery, but then I was just so swept away with the danger and action that just never seemed to pause that I didn’t mind.
As a fantasy, Headlines & Hydras delivers on the magic, the mythical creatures, and the world. Since this is already an established world, most of the building in this book felt focused on the new area Kylie explores. It really came to life to me and I really enjoyed the history that came with it. It was wonderful to get to see some dangerous magic and read all about the dangers Kylie, Quinn, and Grant encounter. There also seems to be quite a lot of mythical birds in this series. But I liked how this book extended the world. It was fun to wander around with the upper echelons of society and sink into the swampy home of dangerous birds while using the familiar city of Terra Haven as a launching pad.
Headlines & Hydras is a fantastic, worthy sequel to Leads & Lynxes. It continues to deliver on the fantasy, mystery, and romance fronts while providing an ever deepening mess for Kylie to figure out.
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What’s your favorite mythical bird? Mine is the phoenix!
Thank you to Rebecca Chastain for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.