I love Shielded, the first book in this series, and I was lucky enough to interview KayLynn for its release last year. Now, I get to do a second interview and review the second book in this series too! If you’d like to read my review and interview of Shielded, check it out here! While this review is spoiler free, this may contain spoilers for Shielded, so read ahead at your own risk.
Thanks to TBR & Beyond Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour. This is such a great series and I’m glad I can help promote it! Be sure to check out the tour schedule and follow along!
Thank you to KayLynn for reaching out to me! And thank you to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Untethered (Shielded #2) by KayLynn Flanders
Published: July 20, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Fantasy
For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes the thrilling sequel to Shielded about a world in a deadly magical war and the newly crowned king and feisty princess who must defeat the deadliest of foes before there’s nothing left to save.
Although King Atháren’s sister, Jennesara, saved Hálendi from the Gray Mage, the reprieve came at a steep price–the life of their father. Now Ren rules over a divided kingdom, with some who want him dead, and a Medallion that warns of worse trouble brewing in the south.
As second born, Princess Chiara is the perfect Turian royal–perfectly invisible. She longs to help restore peace on the Plateau, but with no magic and no fighting skills, she doesn’t stand a chance against a mage. So when a member of the Turian royal family goes missing and Chiara finds a clue about the rumored resting place of the mages’ long-lost artifacts, she decides it’s time to be seen.
As Ren’s and Chiara’s paths cross, they find the depth of the mages’ hold on the Plateau is more powerful than anyone suspected, and that they must learn to trust themselves, and each other, before the mages retrieve their artifacts and become too powerful to ever defeat.
After the end of Jenna and Enzo’s story, we are left with some questions and concerns. We know that Graymere is dead, but what about the other mages? And how will it work now that Ren is King of Hálendi, while Jenna is currently betrothed to the future king of Turiana? And what about The Black Library? What happens if the mages find it? And did I feel some tension between Ren and Chiara?
If you had any of those questions, then welcome to the book that provides all of these answers! We didn’t get to see much of Ren, Jenna’s older brother, in Shielded as he was off fighting and healing soldiers on the battlefield, but this book is Ren’s story. And Chiara’s, Enzo’s little sister, who we saw a good bit of in Shielded. I loved splitting up this series into two separate stories, while keeping it in the same world. Jenna and Enzo’s story was mostly complete by the end of Shielded, with only a few major questions left behind. Picking up the story with Chiara and Ren was such a fun change and I loved the two of them as MCs!
Following along with their story, we have Ren, who’s unsure of his new responsibilities and fears for the future, and Chiara, who feels invisible at home and wants to be anything but useless. When Chiara’s father is kidnapped on the way to a royal wedding in Riiga, she does the only thing that felt right, go out and find him. But while Chiara doesn’t have the fighting skills and magic of Jenna, she does have her wits about her. She’s definitely not a stupid person and manages to find a friend, Aleksa, on the road who’s willing to help her get into Riiga. Ren, who now wears the Medallion, gets a feeling that trouble is brewing in the south and heads to check on Jenna in Turiana. After discovering that Chiara has left for Riiga with her grandmother, Ren volunteers to get her and bring her home.
But things aren’t always that easy. Because while Chiara is on a mission to save her father, she also ends up being the key to finding The Black Library. And while she doesn’t want to help the mages find it, things change when her eight year old sister Mari sneaks off to find Chiara and ends up getting picked up by one of the mages. This book has so many twists and turns as we follow Chiara and Ren on their rescue mission. I was honestly amazed with how much happens in this book, especially since it was only 400 pages long.
One of my favorite things about this series, and KayLynn’s writing in general, is her ability to lay down a plot that is filled with action, adventure, and romance, yet it doesn’t feel overdone or too much. And her characters are always so tough, even when they feel like they’re weak. There’s a lot about this book that I love and I wish I could get more stories out of this world. Though this is a satisfying ending, I was still left with some questions. I’m hoping this means that we’re getting another book in the series, because I would love to know the answers to some of these!
Overall, this was such a good sequel. I loved Ren and Chiara’s story and the ending that we get from this book. While I have some questions, I’m hoping this means that we get a third book in the series, but I won’t hold my breath. If you like action, adventure, magic, and romance, this is a series you will love and should definitely check out!
Congratulations on Shielded and now on its sequel, Untethered! How did your writing process change from the first book to its sequel?
My writing process stayed very similar—get words on the page however I can, and then revise them until they do the job they’re supposed to do. But for the sequel, the timeline was much shorter than with Shielded. It was also different in that the world was already set up, so I could get into the thick of the action faster.
What was the hardest thing about writing a sequel?
The expectations! As an author, you always hope your book will connect with readers. With a second book, those readers now have expectations and something to compare it to. Will it live up? Is it good enough even though I didn’t spend five years on it like I did with the first book? As I drafted and revised Untethered, I tried to focus on writing the best book I could, to make a book I loved. And I love it; I hope you do too.
Favorite writing/editing snack and drink?
I munch a lot when I write, but my favorite is probably Dove chocolate or chewy nerds. Favorite drink is water out of necessity—I live in a desert and am chronically dehydrated.
What was a funny/weird writing moment you had?
I always loved reading books with poems or prophecies that were threaded through the story, but I never thought I’d write one because I didn’t think I could and have it all work. But there was a moment when it became clear that this book needed something like that, and it was really fun and surreal to work on my own poem like that.
Since we are getting a new perspective in Untethered, did you find it easier or harder to write Chiara’s story?
It was easier in some ways—the world was already built, the magic system set—but harder in others. Chiara’s voice is much quieter than Jenna’s, or even Ren’s, and bringing her voice and her story forward so it wasn’t overshadowed by Ren’s charisma took several tries. But telling her story was important to me, and I think their perspectives balance each other well.
Any fun plans to celebrate Untethered’s release?
Bookstores in my are still aren’t open up for in-person events, so I’ll do a couple of online events (TikTok and IG Lives). The week after release, I’ll be going to Disneyland with my family, and I’m really looking forward to that.
KayLynn Flanders has a degree in English Language and editing, and has been a freelance editor and book designer for over twelve years. Her debut novel, Shielded, was published by Delacorte Press/PRH, with the sequel, Untethered, forthcoming. KayLynn and her family live in Utah between some mountains and a lake, and she is directionally challenged without them. She loves reading, writing, traveling, and volleyball, and thinks there’s nothing better than a spur-of-the-moment road trip.