I’d picked up the sequel to this novel in the library, knowing I’d had the first one in the series at home waiting to be read. I was interested in the premise, and hoped it would have a refreshing take on the genre. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
This novel was basically one whole Stolkholm Syndrome trip. It was painted as a romance, but I’m sorry – there is nothing remotely romantic about being kidnapped and held hostage. Nothing. Plus the romantic interest, Kaspar, was not romantic in the slightest!! His character was so sexist towards the protagonist, Violet, that I really don’t see where the romantic story line came from. He was constantly horrible to Violet, yet somehow towards the end there’s a romance plot between them? I mean, what?? Where has this come from? He kidnapped her from her family, FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and is horrible to her and she decides “OOOO YES THIS IS THE ONE I WANT TO GO OUT WITH.” This was so frustrating! Don’t even get me started on the use of “Girly”, Kaspar’s nickname for Violet – I think this was intended as a flirtatious thing but it was just awkward and clunky. Plus it didn’t sit well with the rest of the dialogue so stuck out like a sore thumb.
I liked how Abigail Gibbs launched us straight into the action – however I am so confused as to what the motivation was for keeping Violet alive. Gibbs made an effort to make a point of her version of vampires being cold blooded killers, especially in the opening scene where they murder around 30 people in the middle of Trafalgar Square – plot hole being I’m sure London is much busier than my hometown in the middle of nowhere would be, so surely there would have been loads of people milling around even at that time of night? So there would have been more witnesses than just the protagonist? Due to Gibbs trying hard to make readers interpret vampires as predators, surely they would have killed Violet without a second thought when they saw she had witnessed the mass murder? Even if it was one of the other vampires and not Kaspar, who Gibbs especially made an effort to paint as a moody character.
Plus there was no chemistry between Kaspar and Violet, so I found the romance so hard to believe. Though Gibbs’ characterisation seemed off through out the whole novel to be honest. Violet and Fabian’s interaction for instance – Fabian portrayed as a good friend who tries to be nice and welcome Violet into their world, then out of nowhere develops a massive crush on Violet and turns into the “nice guy”. “Nice guy” of course referring to that bloke who tries to be all nicey nicey and then thinks he’s entitled to sex from you and then complains when you say “Woah dude not interested” and they complain about being friend zoned (DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THAT CRAP) and start crying about how they’re a “nice guy” and how could you possibly do this to them??? My point being that Fabian had not been written as this kind of jerk. He had been written as a nice friend who was on Violet’s side. Then we get on to Lyla’s characterisation – she was also written at first as a nice friend who welcomed Violet into their world – then all of a sudden there’s a random romance line between Lyla and Fabian. Lyla is then jealous of Fabian’s random attraction towards Violet and she suddenly hates Violet’s guts? This just seemed a completely random direction to take the plot in. Then later on basically everyone hates Violet and this is not explained at all – and she STILL SHOWS NO DESIRE TO RUN BACK HOME. This was completely unbelievable!
One of my main issues with this plot was that there was no plot! Violet gets kidnapped, and after one failed escape attempt when she was first taken to the vampire manor Violet then doesn’t even return to the idea of escaping and spends her days sat in her room on her bed. I’m sorry but how is this a romantic story line? This just seemed so wrong – the character would surely be trying more ways to escape through out the narrative. Then when she gets the chance to escape, she doesn’t take it. ARGGGGH! So frustrating! There is absolutely no plot if she spends her days sitting in her room! That is not an interesting story! I really wanted to see Violet escape back to her home life, but this didn’t happen and it was so frustrating. I couldn’t get invested in the romance because I despised the love interest, and the romance plot line seemed to be romanticising an abusive relationship with how Kaspar treated Violet.
There were some pet peeves about the writing style that really niggled on me. The fact that Violet hears a voice in her head – yeah, fine – but it was the way Gibbs described it. “Blah blah blah, my voice said.” Argh! No! Just leave the italics there, we know it’s the character thinking to themselves! Although this entire writing device was unnecessary because the novel was written entirely in first person. Plus there were SO. MANY. TYPOS! I can forgive the odd typo, as not even a publisher is going to catch every single mistake. But these occurred so often in the narrative that it was really jarring – like saying “Me heart skipped a beat” instead of “MY heart skipped a beat.” So many stem words that weren’t changed to fit the context of the sentence like that. It was so annoying! Then there were mistakes like “He slung an arm around my shoulder. ‘Blah blah blah’ he said, slinging an arm around my shoulder.” ARGH. This is just lazy writing – this is an example that should have been cut in the first redraft!
The only interesting plot points occurred at the ball that Violet was invited to where she was attacked, then we had to wait HUNDREDS OF PAGES before another interesting plot point happened – when the vampires found out it was Violet’s father who had ordered their Queen’s assassination. The ending was so disappointing as well. There was just a complete lack of plot, and Gibbs clearly had no idea where she was taking the story. Most of this novel was a load of complete waffle. Plus Gibbs tried to make the story more interesting by adding the concept of different dimensions, but didn’t really explain this at all. It just made the narrative more confusing! As well as this ‘dark heroine’ concept that really wasn’t that well explained, so that the reader didn’t really get the significance of it. Who are the dark heroines and why are they so significant? Who knows, because Gibbs didn’t bother explaining that to the reader. This made the overall concept all jumbled and horrible and it meant it made no sense whatsoever. Plus it was obvious Violet was a dark heroine – why else have a female main character in a book called “The Dark Heroine”? It was just a little too cliche for me.
It took me way longer than it should have done to finish reading this novel because there was so much waffle that I didn’t really get excited about reading it. I didn’t get gripped and think “Ooo I can’t wait to see what happens next!” It was really disappointing. There were so many things that bothered me about this novel that any good things I found in it were completely overshadowed. This novel could have been way more concise, and I really didn’t like the overall premise of the story. I would give it a 2/5, as I really wanted Gibbs to show a refreshing take on the genre but she just didn’t. Plus I really wanted Violet to escape from her captors and instead we had them being romanticised.