The Alcazar: The Cerulean, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Alcazar: The Cerulean, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Intriguing world-building powers delightful space fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Alcazar is a fantasy meant to entertain, but it addresses issues of self-sacrifice and courage. 

Positive Messages

It's self-defeating to constantly seek power for power's sake. Beings of very different origins can work together toward a common goal.

Positive Role Models & Representations

An 18-year-old with silvery skin, Sera is brave, kind, and loyal to her home planet. She possesses magical powers that allow her to challenge her enemies. Agnes and Leo are biracial twins, also 18. Agnes is dark-skinned, queer; Leo light-skinned, seemingly straight. Agnes develops a romantic relationship with Vada, and Leo falls for Sera.

Violence

Although threatened by pirates, Sera and friends don't witness much violence until the story's climax. Some supporting characters are shot to death.

Sex

Sera and Leo share romantic feelings, but it is not clear whether their relationship is physical. Agnes and Vada sleep together, but there are few clues of the extent of their attraction.

Language

One or two uses of "damn," "hell," "bastard," "s--t," and "a--hole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Alcazar continues the story begun in The Cerulean. Silver-skinned Sera needs to return to her home planet before it is destroyed. Twins Agnes and Leo are running from their father and searching for their grandmother, the infamous Ambrosine. Agnes and Vada have a romantic relationship, without many physical details supplied. There's little violence until the story's climax. Some supporting characters are shot to death. Swearing is infrequent (includes "damn," "hell," "bastard," "s--t," and "a--hole"). Some characters have feelings for each other, and two characters share quarters and are presumed to be intimate, but nothing is described.

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What's the story?

As THE ALCAZAR opens, Sera, Leo, Agnes, and Vada are impatient to head off to Braxos, the location of the tether between two worlds. Complicating things is Leo and Agnes' grandmother, the formidable Ambrosine, who has her own agenda. Meanwhile, in the City Above the Sky, the High Priestess consolidates her power, while Sera's best friend Leela experiences visions that reveal that Sera is still alive. Will the silver-skinned girl find her way back home without destroying two planets?

Is it any good?

Space fantasy proves to be an odd mix of genres, but this interplanetary magical adventure features some clever world-building. In The Alcazar, author Amy Ewing sustains the level of suspense she brought to the saga's initial volume, The Cerulean. She has also created a cast of diverse and interesting characters, plus a few new ones, especially Agnes and Leo's overpowering grandmother, the Ambrosine. Ewing executes a couple of neat plot twists and saves some revelations until the final chapters. There are a couple of minor slow spots, but not enough to derail the intricate plot. Readers will feel they get their money's worth, and many will put Ewing on their list of writers to watch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Alcazar depicts a planet without men. How do matriarchies work here on Earth?

  • Why do people become homesick? What can they do to feel better about being away from where they grew up?

  •  

  • Does The Alcazar offer an accurate portrayal of LBGTQ issues? What struggles might the characters find in this imaginary world?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

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