I wasn’t going to write a review for this book until I just realised that I have too many opinions and needed to share them. This is the second book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon so whilst I try to keep reviews spoiler free, it is likely there will be some spoilers in this review.
To say I loved the first Outlander book would be an understatement, I was obsessed. I read it at the end of 2016 and it was easily one of my favourite books that I read that year. So I was very eager to read the second book, A Dragonfly in Amber.
I wouldn’t go as far to say that I was disappointed with this book but I definitely didn’t like it as much as I liked Outlander. This was a chunky book and from looking it up on Goodreads, the longest book I’ve ever read coming in at 971 pages so that’s one of the reasons why I felt like I had read three books after finishing this one. Not only that but I felt like this book could have really benefited from being more than one book. A lot happened and thought I didn’t feel like anything was rushed, each part kind of felt like a full length novel on it’s own.
I definitely enjoyed the second half more than I did the first. There were multiple moments during the first half where I was thinking ‘should I just put this down and read something else?’ I think if I did, I wouldn’t have picked it back up again. Jamie and Claire are in Paris to try and change to course of history to stop the second Jacobite Rising which will end with the Battle of Culloden. Whilst it was interesting to have the story move to a new place and have all these historical figures pop up, it moved very slowly and after the action of the first book, it just felt very tame to me.
For me the best part of the first half was when Jamie hired this little French pickpocket called him Fergus and he was the best character to come out of France. His and Jamie’s relationship was so cute, like how much Fergus looked up to him and how he was like a son to Jamie, my poor little heart might explode.
Is the second half worth the drag of the first half though? Absolutely. The second half has everything that I loved about Outlander that the book really redeemed itself and made trudging through the first half worth it. There are characters from the first book that pop up again and we get to go back to places that we’ve seen before. If anything, there is more action, obviously because of the rising but these scenes are really tense and pick up the pace from where the first half didn’t.
Okay so, the elephant in the room, Jamie and Claire. I feel like I’m really dragging the first half of the book but I just have to get it out there. Whilst their relationship is there throughout the whole book, the first half they felt very settled in married life which, to me, just seemed very dull. I find this a lot with series with a central couple though, when they get settled in their relationship I get bored with it because the lead up to the relationship has been really hyped and exciting and then it’s just like “okay we’re here now that’s it”. But the second half of the book definitely felt more dramatic in terms of their romance because they were being tested due to the imminent doom of the rising. (So there’s my writing romance tip of the day, if you think your character’s relationship is too boring, just through a good old war in there).
Despite what I have said about the first half of the book, I did really enjoy to opening chapters that are set in 1968. I don’t usually enjoy frame narratives but Diana Gabaldon made this one really interesting in the way that the past and the present entwine. I’d love to see how the present narrative continues in the next book and how it’s still going to work in relation to the past as well.
Despite not loving A Dragonfly in Amber as much as Outlander, both share the same addictive quality which has me desperate for the next book, Voyager.