Review: Agents of Winter (Agency #2) by Ada Maria Soto
Arthur and Martin have settled into a quiet life, orbiting each other both on the job and off. Still in recovery from his last devastating mission, Martin is adjusting to his new reality as a permanent desk jockey at the Agency while Arthur is adjusting to his deep feelings for Martin. He’s not even sure what to put on the Agency’s dreaded form B-837, the “relationship form”. Are they dating? “Involved”? In a committed “something”?
The winter holidays interrupt their routines with the annual threat of annual obligatory trips for both of them. At first, old habits rise up to conspire to keep them separated until after the new year, but Martin derails both their plans when he asks Arthur to join him for a week in New York City. He’s still haunted by the ghosts of his childhood, but is he ready to face a new future with Arthur? He knows there is only one way to find out, despite his understated anxiety.
Arthur arrives in New York City ready to play tourist, but instead finds himself unexpectedly and deeply entwined in the mysteries of Martin’s past. Through a risky confrontation with the underground art world to a secret, heavily guarded storage unit, to sharing the quiet joy of impromptu cooking lessons, Martin and Arthur get to know each other on a deeper level than they ever have before. Together they confront the hardest and scariest mission they’ve ever faced: learning what it means, and how it feels, to fall in love.
In this sequel to the acclaimed His Quiet Agent, Ada Maria Soto once again brings to life the complex and deeply moving stories of Martin and Arthur as they face new challenges as well as ghosts from their pasts.
Dear Ada Maria Soto,
I enjoyed “His Quiet Agent” and the follow up short story. Honestly I was surprised to see this sequel, but to me as far as sequels go this one came very close to perfection. The author mentioned that this was a slice of life story for Arthur and Martin and maybe I was mistaken in what I thought “slice of life” story was, but I am not sure I agree with her. I am not disputing what author intended to write, obviously she knows the best what she intended. I am just not sure that the only point of this story was to show the ordinary every day happenings in the life of Arthur and Martin.
I mean, to me this story was *packed* with important character development and relationship development for Arthur and Martin, even though yes, it happened and kept happening in a very quiet, ordinary way. We could already see that Martin had changed even when the story began. I dont want to say that he changed for the better, I thought he was perfectly fine before, but for example he was able to go to the neighbors and asked them to change the pattern on the Christmas lights because it was causing Martin to have a horrible migraine. I thought it was huge, and it was done so well and Martin shares it with Arthur after this happened. So Martin was acquiring more survival skills probably?
And Arthur’s and his relationship had been progressing nicely throughout the book. I think the whole book was just written in such effortless way. More often than not such a book will be too quiet for me, but everything in this one worked.
‘He calms the parts of my brain that always seem to be spinning too fast and in the wrong direction. He fills up the bits of me that I didn’t know were empty. And if that isn’t the fucking sappiest shit ever to come out of my mouth.”
Figuring out that they want to spend time together in New York, Arthur hesitating to ask, but asking and of course Martin agreeing. Arthur making some strides in his relationship with his mom and the rest of his family , Martin dealing with his past.
Martin dealing with his past was *awesome*. There are not that many actual really big revelations in these books, but this one was a revelation and I am not going to say what it was. I will just say that I was a little surprised and still the author made it work and what Martin did with all of this just suited the whole spirit of the story so nicely.
Martin’s library kids are not mentioned much, but at the same time they are and some things connected to library kids is a pretty big narrative point which I loved so much. Of course we knew that Martin loved teaching them, but here we hear some proof that he was actually quite successful in developing some wonderful habits in the kids for them to be able to learn better in the future.
‘It’ll probably take another couple of months to get that Neuquenosaurus up and out of the ground, but Jennifer says she’d love to come and talk with your library kids as soon as she’s back.”
“They will enjoy that.”
“She said they asked better questions and wrote more coherent essays than most of the grad students she’s lectured.”
“I should hope so.” Martin had put considerable time into making sure his library children knew how to ask questions that would garner the maximum information. And he did not allow for sloppy reports from them, either.”
I swear good writing means so much for me in order to be able to like a story which I may like less in the hands of less capable writer. I could not put the book down, I reread it almost right away.
Grade: A- and minus is mostly because of annoying mix up of Arthur and Martin’s names at one point, so this made me panicky that there could have been other typos/mistakes that I may have missed. Hopefully not though.