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Sacrifice

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Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell. Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell's breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals. Zhen Ni, Skybright's former mistress and friend, has Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell. Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell's breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals. Zhen Ni, Skybright's former mistress and friend, has been wed to the strange and brutish Master Bei, and finds herself trapped in an opulent but empty manor. When she discovers half-eaten corpses beneath the estate, she realizes that Master Bei is not all that he seems. As Skybright works to free Zhen Ni with the aid of Kai Sen and Stone, they begin to understand that what is at risk is more far-reaching then they could ever have fathomed.

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Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell. Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell's breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals. Zhen Ni, Skybright's former mistress and friend, has Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell. Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell's breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals. Zhen Ni, Skybright's former mistress and friend, has been wed to the strange and brutish Master Bei, and finds herself trapped in an opulent but empty manor. When she discovers half-eaten corpses beneath the estate, she realizes that Master Bei is not all that he seems. As Skybright works to free Zhen Ni with the aid of Kai Sen and Stone, they begin to understand that what is at risk is more far-reaching then they could ever have fathomed.

30 review for Sacrifice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amerie

    Falling back into this lush fantasy world was such a pleasure. The characters grow so much in their own ways, they are virtually different people from the beginning of SERPENTINE to the end of SACRIFICE. Like real people, they changed through their experiences--sometimes drastically. From the rich setting to the delicious food to the sweet yet painful friendships and romance, it was wonderful to get lost in Ms. Pon's world. More, please.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rana

    Yes, yes, yes! I loved this story. Loved the characters and the story and the world-building. 10 out of 10 demons; would recommend.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kells Next Read

    Cindy Pon has outdone herself in this sequel. When i thought this world, characters and storyline couldn't get better...Boom!! Here comes Sacrifice and it has utterly obliterated any coherent thoughts and feeling that I might have had. This book was Amazing, Creepy, hearth recking and Breathtaking. The character development was seamless and well paced. Each character coming into their own graciously. The storyline itself was filled with so many twist and turns that I couldn't put it down. Even t Cindy Pon has outdone herself in this sequel. When i thought this world, characters and storyline couldn't get better...Boom!! Here comes Sacrifice and it has utterly obliterated any coherent thoughts and feeling that I might have had. This book was Amazing, Creepy, hearth recking and Breathtaking. The character development was seamless and well paced. Each character coming into their own graciously. The storyline itself was filled with so many twist and turns that I couldn't put it down. Even the the minor characters stories and personalities were amazing and I loved how Cindy was able to flawlessly streamline all the pieces to connect perfectly to the main plot. Pon's world building was so vivid and wonderful that I able to clearly envision what she penned, as her imaginations was well articulated. I am left with the feeling of longing and wanting so much more. I need to find out more about Blossom and what she will become and also i can't get enough of Stone and Skybright. ~~~~A million Stars ~~~~~

  4. 4 out of 5

    Glaiza

    I love that this story revolves around Skybright and Zhen Ni's friendship. I appreciated how all of the main characters grew, changed and matured while they were on their separate adventures. So true to life. The tension between the gods, immortals, demons and humans was handled so well. On monsters: Blossom, the demonic toddler is frightening. Seriously. This is a great adventure that closes on a strong note. Full review to come.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jaime (Two Chicks on Books)

    So flipping good!!!!! I can't wait for everyone to read this!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    My second favorite book of 2017. The way I see it, author Cindy Pon can do no wrong. She writes the type of heroines I fiend for: strong and resourceful. Skybright was amazing. And no slut shaming. She was allowed to be sexual without guilt - something that seldom happens with book heroines. While normally I'm not a fan of that dratted "love triangle", this one didn't get in the way and it felt realistic considering that first love Kai Sen struggled to accept Skybright's half demonic nature.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy!

    This was a great conclusion to the Serpentine duology. I really enjoyed revisiting Skybright and her world, and it's wonderful to read a fantasy so well-rooted in Chinese folklore. I definitely need to remember to recommend this more often.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Oh my gosh! *internally screaming* Sacrifice picks up right where Serpentine left off. Skybright is adjusting to her life with Stone when they both discover there is a new breach to the underworld and they must do everything in their power to stop it. Kai Sen continues his training with the monks and is determined to get Skybright back, but he soon discovers the strange re-occurrence of demons. All the while, Zhen Ni knows there’s something off with her new husband who wants nothing to do with he Oh my gosh! *internally screaming* Sacrifice picks up right where Serpentine left off. Skybright is adjusting to her life with Stone when they both discover there is a new breach to the underworld and they must do everything in their power to stop it. Kai Sen continues his training with the monks and is determined to get Skybright back, but he soon discovers the strange re-occurrence of demons. All the while, Zhen Ni knows there’s something off with her new husband who wants nothing to do with her, but leaves her alone in an empty manor. We return to the fantasy world of Xia and this time we get to see the mortal world, underworld, and the heavens. We get descriptions of otherworldly beings and although beautiful, there’s a constant reminder that there’s something terrifying lurking underneath (even when it comes to the gods). Sacrifice continues Serpentine’s theme in relationships and the lengths we go to to keep our friends and loved ones safe, all the while, protecting the world at large. Despite her status as a half demon, Skybright can’t help loving her friends. Kai Sen won’t give up in recovering Skybright. Zhen Ni, although reluctant and frightened, is bound to Skybright as a friend and not just as a hand maiden and mistress. There’s lots of action and scary figures. I especially loved the development between Skybright and Stone. Stone’s own character development was surprising, but heartwarming. Sacrifice is stylistically different than Serpentine. As book one was told from a singular point of view (if I remember correctly), book two is told from multiple point of views that alternate based on scene necessity and not necessarily by chapter. To be honest, I was sad at the end (because of some things… you’ll see!). But I was glad to tag along on this adventure with Skybright and her companions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    ***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.*** What’s Good: Picks up right where Serpentine left off, so you’re right back in the thick of things from the jump. Which also means you really need to have read the first book to fully grasp what’s happening. Initially I was drawn to the series because it wasn’t the same old- diversity’s a strong selling point to me, and a YA novel based upon Chinese mythology & culture was irresistable. While I’d like to have seen more of the U ***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.*** What’s Good: Picks up right where Serpentine left off, so you’re right back in the thick of things from the jump. Which also means you really need to have read the first book to fully grasp what’s happening. Initially I was drawn to the series because it wasn’t the same old- diversity’s a strong selling point to me, and a YA novel based upon Chinese mythology & culture was irresistable. While I’d like to have seen more of the Underworld, etc, it kinda felt like it should be that way: characters only know so much so their perspective would be limited. And as we see things as the characters do, that limits our knowledge as well. To me, the strongest aspect of the book was the character development. Had some problems with Kai Shen, but Zhen was… interesting. lol Skybright has to come to terms with her new form and finding a place for herself, and does so. Good job with that. And I liked the atmospheric touch that everything in the worlds had a hint of danger to it- gods, demons, etc. There's always something else lurking beneath the veneer. What’s Bad: Fell back into a few tropes and cliches. Kai Shen started turning into a Gary Stu (the male version of a Mary Sue) right before your eyes, and I’m still not sure why. No real surprises or twists to the plot; just kinda moved along the direction it was already headed. What’s Left: a solid, entertaining story that draws you in. This duology’s a fine one to add to your collection.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melani

    Sacrifice is the follow up to Serpentine, and it’s a nice continuation of the story. It’s an enjoyable story, and the setting is unique and well developed. I'm annoyed that the focus of the story shifted from the friendship between Zhen Ni and Skybright to a love triangle between Skybright, Stone, and Kai Sen. One of the things I really liked about the first novel was the depiction of female friendship, so to see that shifted in favor of romance was irritating. I don’t generally mind love triang Sacrifice is the follow up to Serpentine, and it’s a nice continuation of the story. It’s an enjoyable story, and the setting is unique and well developed. I'm annoyed that the focus of the story shifted from the friendship between Zhen Ni and Skybright to a love triangle between Skybright, Stone, and Kai Sen. One of the things I really liked about the first novel was the depiction of female friendship, so to see that shifted in favor of romance was irritating. I don’t generally mind love triangles in YA, I find that they’re good short-hand for the conflict going on inside the protagonist, however they are a bit cliche at this point. There is also some really icky consent issues in the latter half of the novel. It’s a side part of the story, and there’s a weak attempt to justify it at the end, but I don’t think the justification negates the consent issue. Charm magic is used against one of the characters to make said character more fond of another character. It is later described as a real, loving relationship even though the character acknowledges that it started with a charm spell. It’s gross. However, as I said this story line isn’t really touched on with any depth. It’s a side story and the love in question isn’t romantic love, so Pon ignores the issues of consent that the story raises. Honestly, it was quite a sour note in the story and I wish that it had been better dealt with.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz Freed

    Love it. Quick read - so engaging and hard to put down. Pon's work always entrances me: short powerful descriptions; earthy characters; and a twisty and intense plot. I loved that this series was intersectional. An Asian fantasy with queer characters and strong female friendship at its center. It's rare, but more true to life, to find all in one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    3.5 Loved some of the expanded mythology in this as well as how this was creepier than the first. Felt a little disconnected from some of the characters though which made it hard to feel much for them. Skybright's growth and Stone's background were well done though.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Kai Sen :(

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lepus Domesticus

    This book was considerably better-written than Serpentine, but the story conclusion was much less satisfying, though not enough for me to want to make it a three-star review. I have mixed feelings about this book, because my reading is colored by my great dissatisfaction with the ending. This book has 3 PsOV. In the beginning it felt a little disjointed, included one POV switch that I strongly felt was in absolutely the wrong place and ended up reading out of order, but by the mid-point of the bo This book was considerably better-written than Serpentine, but the story conclusion was much less satisfying, though not enough for me to want to make it a three-star review. I have mixed feelings about this book, because my reading is colored by my great dissatisfaction with the ending. This book has 3 PsOV. In the beginning it felt a little disjointed, included one POV switch that I strongly felt was in absolutely the wrong place and ended up reading out of order, but by the mid-point of the book, the switches were better and the reading was smooth. The story is mainly about the interactions between Skybright and Stone, which I liked a lot. Mild spoiler: (view spoiler)[When Stone's power was taken away, however, even though I liked his character, he became blander and the story devolved into the kind of love triangle story where you don't feel there's much to choose between in the two rival love interests. (hide spoiler)] Zhen Ni's story was a classic fairy tale horror story of the woman who accidentally marries a demon/shapeshifter/monster. That said, (view spoiler)[Blossom and Zhen Ni's reaction to her elevated the story to something both more sinister and more thoughtful and interesting than the classic tales. (hide spoiler)] Kai Sen was less likable this time around, and he never seemed to have really thought through the consequences of his actions, hurting people he cared about in the process, both physically and emotionally. (view spoiler)[I also felt his actions in the final scene of his story could have been described better; I couldn't tell that there was a necessary purpose to what he did and that it wasn't just a foolish decision stemming from his jealousy and fear. (hide spoiler)] Which brings me to the love triangle. MAJOR SPOILERS! (view spoiler)[I didn't feel the relationship between Skybright and Kai Sen, so I wasn't invested in his death or in Skybright's mourning for him. Likewise, I had more feeling for Stone, but ultimately felt neither male lead was well-enough developed for me to feel a stake in which one Skybright chose. Because of that, I was really excited at the end when the Goddess of Accord calls Stone and Sky to be rewarded (by the way, I loved that Stone rejected his former life; that was well-imagined and handled), and I really thought that Sky was going to choose NEITHER suitor and indeed reject all men (and romantic relationships) by taking on Stone's old role. So I was a bit disappointed when the goddess played matchmaker with them instead, even though I also like the idea of Stone and Sky continuing to work together, since I did like their dynamic, as friends if not necessarily lovers (at least yet; I am totally on board with them getting together in the future). But it felt like Kai Sen was written in such a way that he was never really an option (nor did I want him to be--perhaps that was intentional too, that he wanted to have it all, while rejecting every tradition, which he couldn't do in this world; I mean, monks can't have girlfriends, demonic or otherwise, and he seemed to think he could do whatever he wanted without consequence (perhaps the problem with putting 18-year-old boys in charge of ancient sacred institutions??), and ultimately, his death almost felt like a punishment for that), and Sky's love for him and mourning didn't feel earned. Stone's choice was both earned and very appropriate. As was Sky's, though more on that in a second. (hide spoiler)] Which brings me to the ending. I was very glad to get the story of Opal. It made more sense than anything I had imagined, and felt appropriate. That said, from the set-up in Serpentine and all through Sacrifice, the overarching conflict involved the carelessness or callousness of the gods, the resentment of the ancient demons, and the cruelty of the covenant to mortals. Kai Sen twisted himself to fight it, Stone's pettiness toward both Kai Sen and Ye Guai was the perfect escalation, but then... nothing. There was absolutely no resolution at all. (view spoiler)[And Sky's investment in breaking the covenant was never developed, so ending the story with her suddenly taking up Kai Sen's mantle was not made believable. (hide spoiler)] If this book is truly the last in this series and there is not to be a third, then there was no resolution of that overarching plot line and the books leave the reader with a fatalistic and depressing message that we are at the mercy of fickle gods, forced to be dutiful to social (and divine) contracts that harm us. And seriously, what is Blossom going to be when she grows up? This series is really begging for a third volume. Random notes: I liked Stone's misguided failed attempts to get Sky to embrace her demon side, and how Sky actually came to accept herself; I'm glad Zhen Ni accepts Sky in demon form, but that also didn't quite feel earned. Recommended for: people who liked Serpentine. Content: brief graphic violence, horror, cannibalism, misogyny

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy K.

    The worldbuilding and details thereof is as lush and delicious as in the first book, but it's the character development that really shines, particularly for the way that Pon allows for the organic maturation and growth of all of the characters and not just Skybright, our heroine. Kai Sen, Stone, Zhen Li--they all learn some hard lessons about growing up, about the titular subject (sacrifice), and about the depths and costs of love. This book is beautifully written, with compelling characters and The worldbuilding and details thereof is as lush and delicious as in the first book, but it's the character development that really shines, particularly for the way that Pon allows for the organic maturation and growth of all of the characters and not just Skybright, our heroine. Kai Sen, Stone, Zhen Li--they all learn some hard lessons about growing up, about the titular subject (sacrifice), and about the depths and costs of love. This book is beautifully written, with compelling characters and breathless action. The last eighty pages were devoured in a frenzy; I had to know how it would all turn out.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Much better than the first novel as Pos added more POV to the story. I wanted more from this story, from the character and from this world. Parts felt focus, and others draw out. At the end of the day this story is quite simple like the first one, but added a little depth into the relation of the characters, but there is room for more. The ending was beautiful. I saw a lot of potential and for the most part it could have been more 3.75 out of 5 scales.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jesheckah

    While the first book in this series showed a lot of promise, the writing in the sequel fell flat. Still relying too much on culture and surprise interactions in place of a plot, the book is just not that appealing. The characters undergo almost no change, and some of the best ones are simply left in the dust. Overall I wouldn't read it again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carter Llewellyn

    Takes the great elements that the first novel slowly builds to and jumps right in, further expanding the world and sorts of monsters and magic found around it. Wish there were more books about Skybright.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sam (Hissing Potatoes)

    I was lukewarm on Stone and Skybright's relationship but overall enjoyed the book. LOVE Zhen Ni and Blossom, would give limbs to have a book focused on Blossom and her mothers and her guardian hellhounds that explores being part demon, bonus points for interaction with Skybright.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Linsky

    Such a delightful book! Such wonderful characters! Oh, how I want more! (Minor dissatisfaction: I kept expecting Skybright to learn how to retain her dress when she shifted!)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beatrice

    This was a truly excellent read. An improvement on the first, which was good but not nearly so gripping. I’ll definitely be buying both for my young nieces on the strength of this one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shimona Hirchberg

    so so good where is the next onee

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I enjoyed this one. I loved the concept and characters. Great sequel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    3.5 stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    Blossom is a very interesting character. I think I like her.

  26. 5 out of 5

    SR

    The plot and action are solid; the personal development of the characters is somewhat flat and sometimes seems hollow. Still glad I read the duology.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Riska Sleepless

    I didn't really like some of the developments but overall this was a very good sequel.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alana

    I liked this MUCH better than Serpentine, because there was actually a plot.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rondi Olson

    There was a lot I liked about this book, including the character development of both Skybright and Stone, as well as the plot following Zhen Ni, which for many chapters was more compelling than Skybright's story. The book ended feeling like there was more story to be told, and while Serpentine and Sacrifice are billed as a duology, I would personally like to read more. One confusing thing for me, though, was Kai Sen's growth. The changes in his character during the book did make one question the There was a lot I liked about this book, including the character development of both Skybright and Stone, as well as the plot following Zhen Ni, which for many chapters was more compelling than Skybright's story. The book ended feeling like there was more story to be told, and while Serpentine and Sacrifice are billed as a duology, I would personally like to read more. One confusing thing for me, though, was Kai Sen's growth. The changes in his character during the book did make one question the ending. (view spoiler)[ How did someone who had grown so powerful magically end up dead? Presumed dead, anyway. I guess we'll never know, even though as a point-of-view character, we could have had a little bit more finality, which we didn't get.(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rich in Color

    Review copy: Purchased After reading Serpentine earlier this year, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel. I’m happy to report that everything I loved about the first book is here: fantastic world-building, unique characters, and memorable mythology. Cindy Pon still excels in writing descriptive passages, whether that’s clothing, fight scenes, building layouts, or supernatural/demonic creatures. Her ability to set a scene is remarkable, and I loved her descriptions of the underworld to the Mou Review copy: Purchased After reading Serpentine earlier this year, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel. I’m happy to report that everything I loved about the first book is here: fantastic world-building, unique characters, and memorable mythology. Cindy Pon still excels in writing descriptive passages, whether that’s clothing, fight scenes, building layouts, or supernatural/demonic creatures. Her ability to set a scene is remarkable, and I loved her descriptions of the underworld to the Mountain of Heavenly Peace and everywhere in between. Pon made good use of Skybright’s reliance on smell and life-sensing in this book—it was a great way to show that Skybright was developing and getting used to her abilities as a serpent demon. While Skybright was the sole narrator in Serpentine, the scope of Sacrifice was wide enough that two additional POVs were necessary: Zhen Ni and Kai Sen. Of the two of these, Zhen Ni was the strongest, and her slow discovery of what was truly going on in her new husband’s manor was terrifying in the best sorts of ways. Kai Sen had an important, though not as compelling, part of the narrative. It was great when their plots converged with Skybright’s, and I admired the (somewhat tumultuous) friendship and love between them. I enjoyed being able to get their takes on the events of the previous book and see them drive their respective plots forward in this book. In the previous book, I didn’t like Stone all that much, which made my eventual appreciation of him in this book all the more surprising. Getting his powers stripped from him—and thus no longer able to drag Skybright around with him at his whim—definitely helped me (and Skybright) stop hating him entirely. I’m still not sure how I feel about the romance that developed between Skybright and Stone, because while it felt better paced than the one between Skybright and Kai Sen in the previous book, something Stone forced Skybright to do prior to losing his powers crossed my “actions that are acceptable for love interests” line. And once that line is crossed, I can’t completely get rid of the nagging voice that says the heroine should run the other way, even if he consistently proves he isn’t that person anymore. Recommendation: Get it soon, especially if you enjoyed Serpentine. It was a treat to come back to the Kingdom of Xia, and while I’m a little sad that this will be the last book to focus on Skybright, I feel like this was a good place to conclude her story. I’m looking forward to Cindy Pon’s next work, both in the Kingdom of Xia and outside of it.

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