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cover(If this is too long for some of you to read, I’m giving the book a hearty recommendation.)

I want to read it again.

I knew before I got to the end of The Poet and the Prophecy that my first reaction to what promised to be a stellar end to the series would be the desire to read the entire thing again. That was how I felt at the end of The Incubus and the Angel. As soon as I’d gotten enough clues to make wild guesses about what would happen, I had to go back to the beginning of the first book and reread the series. As I’d suspected, there were more hints of what was to come—significant relationships, life events, symbolism—than I’d anticipated when I’d raced through the first two books. I anticipate discovering and marveling at new details when I give the last book a second, more careful read through.

The Poet and the Prophecy finds Kyle at the beginning of his senior year, at a kind of crossroads. He begins doubting his beliefs about the prophecy he translated, how the end will manifest itself and how it can be stopped, when it comes to that. The structure of the magical world is falling apart around him and Kyle feels at once responsible to help those who are struggling and guilt for bringing his beliefs into light. At the heart of his questions is this: Is his translation borne from his magical ability to discern meaning from the original poem or a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Kyle soon finds out there are no easy answers. When it comes to magic, everything he has learned is in question, including the stability of the strongest spells in existence. When it comes to love, and the power it has to heal and ultimately fulfill the prophecy, the one person he wants to believe is the other half of his whole can hardly be in a room with him, let alone consider anything more than a nodding acquaintance.

Spoilers from here on out.

What I enjoyed most about this story (and there many things) was the progression of Kyle’s relationship with Frost. After all of the emotional and physical upheaval the two experienced from the second book forward, it was nice to read about them having honest conversations about their feelings, their wants and needs. Kyle, as always, was willing to play sacrificial lamb (or perhaps white knight is more appropriate) to give Frost everything he needed to feel comfortable. Whether that meant going without sexual satisfaction or making himself vulnerable to whatever spell Frost wanted to perform, Kyle was willing to make that sacrifice out of love for Frost and guilt for having changed him irrevocably. The changes in their relationship were so touching, and Frost’s emotional changes handled so delicately, I found myself rereading passages. Seeing the two of them learning to trust each other and grow closer in spite of the issues between them felt real and was beautiful to read.

Kyle’s vulnerability is on display more so in this book than the last, with Frost there to witness, and be touched by it, almost every day. A steadfast show of unconditional love was the only way the ice queen was able to break out of her protective cage and the two could come together. One passage in particular was the most memorable exchange for me, where Kyle expresses his feelings and why Frost is so important to him:

“Whether you count it as twice, or six times, or whatever, I know that doesn’t give me the right to talk to you or even look at you if you don’t want me to,” he began. “And maybe it didn’t mean anything to you or it only meant bad things to you, but for me, it was some of the most significant interaction I’ve ever had with another human being. Not just the best sex, that doesn’t even describe it, and not the strongest magic I’ve experienced either. Making love with you changed me, Frost. That doesn’t mean you owe me anything. But it does mean I wish you could acknowledge it. And that you can’t ask me to forget it.”

There was a moment where it looked to Kyle like Frost was holding in tears. Where her face went completely still except for the way she breathed.

“Neither of us has been the same since,” Kyle added hurriedly. “And I know… I know you want to go back to the way you were before. But I don’t. I can’t. I’m different now. Even if I never get to see you again or speak to you again, painful as that would be, I wouldn’t trade it for going back. It’s like I wasn’t really alive until you. And I thank you for that. I wish… I just wish you could acknowledge that. That even if it was horrible, or nothing, to you, that it was something for me. You’re always going to be important to me.”

Frost sat back. “You have plenty of other lovers,” she said. “Surely one will supersede me soon.” “That’s not what I’m saying.” Kyle shook his head, though he had a feeling Frost was arguing for the sake of arguing. “You’ll always be the one that changed me.”

Who wouldn’t fall in love with Kyle after that?

As far as the prophecy goes, I’m not sure how I expected that to play out. There were certainly a number of possibilities at the end of the third book and, as with all times when humans try to meddle with destiny, the actions of the characters led to the prophecy being fulfilled, not prevented. Master Brandish in particular surprised me in her hopes for preventing or altering the course of the prophecy. Every measure she or Dean Bell took ended up leading to the course of events Kyle experiences at Veritas which makes one wonder what would’ve happened had they not interfered.

Kyle’s relationship with Alex has always fascinated me. We don’t see as much of Alex in this book but, as with The Incubus and the Angel, his few appearances are important to Kyle’s understanding of his personal path and the support of those around him. At times I feel like Alex is the voice of the author herself, telling Kyle everything he needs to know to reach his ultimate goal, while also allowing him to question the paths he could take and the very real possibility of failure.

I know I’ve been going on for a while, so I’m going to stop now. I just have to add that it’s rare for me to read a book that I feel is perfect – in execution, characterization and story development. Everything from the setting to the interaction with secondary characters served to flesh out the story and merge this world seamlessly with our own. This is one of the small handful of books for which I cannot name a flaw. Every question I had was answered, the writing was fantastic and I felt this book was a satisfying and thrilling conclusion to a brilliantly written series. I know my bias is obvious here, but the first book in this series is the first I’d read from Cecilia Tan and the last assures that I will be a fan for life.