Form: pdf file
Genre Poe-related fantasy romance
Target audience: YA
It is the sequel of Nevermore, reviewed by me not so long ago. If you haven’t read the first part and you are spoiler-sensitive, please omit this section.
Isobel returned home from ‘Poeland’ and had to destroy Varen’s notebook in order to break the link between that place and her reality. However she was tricked by Reynolds to believe Varen returned as well when in fact he got stuck there as a slave of Lilith, an ancient demoness. Now Isobel wants to do everything in her power to find her way back and help Varen return. Still, is she really up to the task?
Juggling cheerleader duties, the final year of her high school and her family, more and more worried, Isobel finds it hard to have one calm day or night. She is tortured by visions of Varen, she still meets Pinfeathers, one of the dreadful Nocs from Poeland, and her former boyfriend, Brad, is now just a life-weary cripple. A trip to a Baltimore’s cemetery where Poe was buried, seems to be her only chance.There, in the early morning hours of Poe’s birthday, a mysterious stranger known only as the “Poe Toaster” will make his annual homage at the legendary poet’s grave. Only the Poe Toaster holds the key to the way between worlds. Will she make it on time? Will she know how to fight the demonic Lilith? Will Varen be the same person she fell in love with?
What I liked:
You know the curse of the sequels? It is very difficult to write the second part of a series as good as the first one. Ms Creagh took a risk and wrote it differently. I admit it was brave of her.
The Poe-themed world building was still one of the highlights here, along with the further information about Lilith, provided by Isobel’s best friend, Gwen. I also enjoyed a truly original take on the Nocs, demonic ghouls which can disperse into a mist but are quite fragile otherwise. The narrative reveals many wonderful details about Varen and his dream world. And I was perfectly happy with the fact that Isobel’s family was still there, trying to understand and help her as much as they could and/or were allowed by Isobel herself.
What I didn’t like:
Unfortunately I must say a book almost without Varen was 100% worse than the first novel with him playing an active part. Also the fact that the story is still narrated by Isobel herself started to grate on my nerves as that girl too often had nothing interesting to say. Small wonder – you see, she doesn’t like reading.
And here I hit my main grievance: Isobel. Or rather her attitude towards life, Varen, her family, books and finding info therein. Overall her attitude, full stop.
Ok, she is depressed, she can’t confide in anybody apart from Gwen and even Gwen is not to be trusted with everything. However let me ask a simple question: why? Would it be such a big mistake to tell your family what you feel and why? Would it hurt to mention some alternate reality and the fact that your boyfriend might be imprisoned and tortured there? By the way Isobel’s obstinacy to see that her beloved might be at least partially guilty of anything was surprising. Let’s face it, Varen failed to connect appropriately with humanity at large and hence he actively sought the understanding companionship of a soul-sucking demoness, go figure! The problem here is not that he’s being made to face the consequences of his actions, but rather that Isobel seems utterly blind to his being at fault at all. She wants to stop Lilith from ever hurting anyone ever again, but what if they, like Varen, want her to be summoned? What then!?
Now a bit about reading. Imagine that your boyfriend is imprisoned in a kind of alternate universe which is somehow connected to the works of a particular author. You love your boyfriend dearly and you would do anything to set him free; wouldn’t reading a bio of that author along with the majority (if not all) of his collected works be your absolute priority? Meanwhile Isobel never takes a book into her hand. Most of important information she gets because a) she was told b) somebody has read it to her (often Gwen) c) she overheard it, accidentally or not d) she dreamt about it. Really, is reading so difficult to swallow?
My last carping and a warning: this novel ends with a big cliffie: (a spoiler, highlight to read or skip) Isobel wakes up in an ICU and she observes her own failed resuscitation. Still the reader, like her, is not sure whether she really dies. Varen seems to be responsible for her fatal injuries – he was acting under Lilith’s compulsion. I hate clffies.
I am a bit torn: on the one hand I would like to know how this story ends and whether there has been a method in this madness. On the other hand I’m afraid the third book might be a waste of time because nothing, literally NOT ONE SINGLE THING prepared Iso to deal with Lilith and her realm, the biggest obstacle being Isobel herself. I am not sure the author can come up with a trick good enough to sound believable or real.
“A word to the wise… cover your mirrors.
That’s how they find you.”
That’s how they find you.”