**The following contains spoilers for book 1, Subversive.**
Beatrix’s desire to protect her sister against those trying to dismantle the women’s movement compels Beatrix and her best friend Ella to move forward with their plans to secretly provide magic lessons to other women. Their actions, however, may have consequences neither completely thought through.
The political intrigue continues in Radical as it becomes clear that those running the government see Lydia Harper and the women’s movement as a threat to their power. Beatrix now understands that the danger to her sister is very real. Being in this position reinforces the importance of family to Beatrix but also highlights her tunnel vision when things relate to her sister. She may often act hastily without thoroughly understanding the consequences for those around her. When magic is concerned, the resident wizard is bound to become entangled, leading to the question of how much of her relationship with Peter is Beatrix willing to jeopardize? It’s a difficult decision when they’re both people she loves (or one of them is at least).
The plot device used to connect our leads was ingenious. It was complex and constantly evolving. It put me on an emotional rollercoaster. And yet, I still loved it. I’ve been committed to Beatrice and Peter’s relationship since the beginning, and Radical wore me down emotionally. I was struggling nearly as much as Peter and Beatrix struggled with their feelings for one another, questioning if their feelings were genuine or a manifestation of their connection. One thing is for certain though, whether it is love or not, the pain from betrayal still cuts deeply.
There were moments when it felt like the magic rules kept changing. It could be construed that the rules were being made up as the story went…as if there weren’t rules to begin with. However, I think it fits well into the overall story because not much research has been done on the magical abilities of women. Anything can nearly go because no one knows much about what women can do. (Now for my PSA…) This is what can happen when knowledge is purposely withheld. If knowledge is truly power, those who get to control the narrative and determine what information is released may go a long way to protect what they do not want to be disclosed. This is why the dissemination of information is so important.
While I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Subversive, it is still a good read–great when compared to other books I’ve read this year. It’s just that Subversive was extra good (unfair, I know). I felt like Radical taunted me, lulling me into believing I knew what was going to happen when I actually didn’t know much at all. Like its predecessor, it kept me on my toes. It also reinforced what I learned from reading Subversive: Cowley has an uncanny ability for writing endings, the rip your heart out kind (cue: Lifehouse’s “Whatever It Takes”)