The Solstice Bride, the second in the Heirs to Camelot series from Jacqueline Simonds, picks up twenty years after the end of The Midsummer Wife. Twenty years! Imagine my disappointment when she didn’t immediately jump in and explain her cliffhanger. But in the end I forgave her, since Solstice was an excellent story. And, p.s., it does circle around to that cliffhanger eventually. (Is that too much of a spoiler?)

The series premise takes the legends of Avalon, Merlin, and King Arthur and combines them with urban fantasy in the near future. England suffers a devastating nuclear event, and it’s up to the Heirs to solve the problems. Part of the solution happens in book one, but as they say, good deeds never go unpunished. And book two proves that.

The main characters this time are Falke Drunemeton and Ravenna, Princess and priestess-in-training. They’re the next generation of the Heirs to Camelot. And, of course, they have a job to do. Saving England, that is.

There’s another instance of insta-love in this book, like book one. So, if that’s not your thing, then be warned. But Simonds writes it well, without making the attraction smarmy and over-played. It’s a part of the story, but the main thrust isn’t the romance. (Yes, bad pun intended!)

My conclusions

Much as Falke and Ravenna are focused on getting to know each other, they must also fight the powers of evil. Namely, Ravenna’s mother. But rather than making this a simple good versus evil tale, Simonds also layers in the competing powers of revisionist history versus truth telling. It makes for a more complex and relevant story.

I hope Simonds can gain some traction as an author. She’s at least as good, if not better, than some fantasy authors already getting big book deals. So, if you love Arthurian legends, you should check her out. If you enjoy a good urban fantasy, with resisters fighting a larger evil, this is also a series worth starting.

I’m glad Simonds reached out to me regarding her first book in the series. I chose to read this one with no outside encouragement, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. As I said before, her writing style is decidedly modern even though she’s weaving ancient legends into her plots. The balance between character study, action, and mythology was right on target.

If you enjoy a genre-busting read that combines these elements, give the Heirs to Camelot series a try. It’s readily accessible for ebook readers, including those with Kindle Unlimited.

Obviously, pair this with The Midsummer Wife. It also inspired me to re-read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, an Arthurian classic.