I love these covers! I don't know how many times I've said this, but with all the YA books lately, I'm really missing illustrated covers. I think it's a very accurate illustrations of Widdershins, especially the clothes!
Marmell's writing never ceases to amaze me. From the first pages I'm sucked into the world. His narrative is well-written and detailed, with plenty of humor and wit. What always annoyed me to no end in fantasy series was the many point of views. A lot of times, I really didn't care about all these side and sometimes random characters, and I just felt like skipping them. But I never felt like that when reading False Covenant. I was invested into the story from the major characters like Widdershins, Renard, and Julien's perspectives and even the side and new characters that appear in the book.
Set in the Galicien city of Davillon, Marmell took a step away from the overused Medieval setting and instead gave us a French Renaissance with the nobles' hoop dresses and wigs, the guards' plumed hats and flintlock pistols, the architecture, and the names. This is my first time reading a book in that setting, which is a real shame, considering how good it is. The people of Davillon worship gods in the 147 Hallowed Pact. It was intertwined with the story so well and I found myself absorbed in it (which is a very good thing considering how central the religion is to the series, if you haven't already figured it out by the title).
The plot kept me on my toes the entire time, I had no idea what would happen next. I was very tense and anxious with the suspense of it all. I enjoyed the first book but I have to say that the second definitely tops it! But, god, that ending was heartbreaking. I was in shock for a while, I really didn't expect the author to pull that in the end. All I have to say is that, lately, there haven't been a lot of books that moved me like False Covenant did at the end.
Widdershins is her usual reckless and sassy self. She can kick butt and is someone to be reckoned with. But kicking butt aside, Widdershins had (gasp) a personality! She had traits and characteristics that made her a loveable character. She had a bad habit, that when she was angry or nervous, she would keep talking and talking until someone snapped her out of it. She had zero conscience when robbing somebody (to be fair, she only robs people who have wealth to spare) but would never hurt anybody (that is, if they didn't deserve it) and had a kind heart. She's confident in her abilities and always has something to say but she can be reckless and can let her emotions get the best off her. It was also funny, how she would insert the word figs, instead of swearing (something she was banned from doing). I could go on and on, but my point is with strong female characters, authors seem to think literally strong characters. Female characters that fight are fine, but honestly, give them a personality. Being good at fighting does NOT = personalty! Nor does making them perfect and untouchable. Sorry about the rant.
I enjoyed this villain more than the previous one. I don't want to spoil, but with this villain, more myth was brought into the story other than the gods. And I'm kind of wondering what else there is in store in this world.
Widdershins wasn't the only great character. Olgun and Widdershins' relationship is starting to become closer and closer as time passes (although they're already extremely close). Although I didn't have any special feelings for Robin in Thief's Covenant, I found myself enjoying her presence more as she expands her role as Widdersins' friend (sometimes I really miss Genevieve though). Renard was his usual theatrical self. And we saw plenty more of Julien (I think he's my favourite character), he sticks to the rules and is dutiful and loyal to his job as a major and guardsman but is still flexible when he thinks something is wrong. Ancel Sicard, the new bishop, also had a lot of depth to him. I liked the fact that many people of the clergy in this series were pretty honorable instead of the overused deceitful and scumbag ones in usual fantasy.
Like everything else in this book, I thoroughly enjoyed the romance. It wasn't annoyingly slow and didn't hit us out of nowhere either. It was a rather pleasant surprise as I didn't quite see it coming.
There will apparently be two more books in the series. I feel so sorry for Widdershins and I'm wondering what's in store for her next but I can't wait to read more. This is definitely one of my top favourite fantasy series (and one of my favourite series in general as well).
With incredible writing, a well-crafted setting, characters that will undoubtedly touch you and a heroine you can't help but love, this is a fantasy series I recommend to not just fantasy lovers but any book lover. Although targeted at young adults, I think this is a series that both teens and adults will enjoy.