After the interesting and well thought out story of the first book I expected better.
Thrown out of home and without a penny at her disposal, Helen seems to have no worries in the world. There is no mention of the precious secret things she kept hidden in her desk, which had been destroyed, like her mother's letter - accompanied by a royal seal - or the alchemy book.
She submits to grave decisions others make for her almost without blinking an eye: her mother was not forced to make a radical change of look to be a practising Reclaimer. And that Darby has not had any reaction to the haircut is even less credible.
After a first part in which nothing happens, if not the gradual distortion of the heroine's character, it follows one of excess: from being an inexperienced novice even in normal life, Helen finds herself involved in first person in the most extreme situations. And in the case of the final chase of the journal we have to also see her as brainless: pages and pages to emphasize how no one recognized her as Amberley, and she just throws her cover away?
It was dark, the group of people tired because of the masquerade ball: she just had to remain still and silent, rather than throw herself at their feet!
The addition of Delia to the cast is questionable, as is the absurdity of Stokes's death: two books complaining about the numerical minority of Reclaimers, and, after the death of Benchley, Stokes is practically sent to suicide.
The resolution to Carlston's problem is predictable, as is the revelation about his wife.
Selburn's involvement - and his stubborn interest - is increasingly suspect. That neither Carlston nor Helen ever had the curiosity to observe him with the lens is so obviously convenient to verge on ridiculous.
The historical references and the descriptions are again the better points in the book, even if some informations and details are often emphasized, making you think they are important for solving some of the mistery, while they turn out to be useless instead: the castle on the evening of the first meeting with Lawry, the packet from Pike, the silver stick at the brothel...
It was nice to discover more about Hammond.