Vampire Queen #2
Paranormal Young Adult
St. Martin's Griffin
Available January 29th
Received for blog tour through The Readiacs
Warning: Review contains spoilers from Infinite Days, but no spoilers from Stolen Nights.
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Lenah Beaudonte should
be dead. But having sacrificed herself to save another, she finds
herself awakening with strange powers that are neither vampire nor
human—and a new enemy on her trail. In her vampire life, Lenah had
thought that being human was all she ever wanted; but the human heart
suffers pain, heartbreak and loss.
With her new powers growing
and the dark force of the Nex after her soul, Lenah faces a choice:
between the mortal love of gorgeous Justin, whose passion fed her human
soul, and taking a different path to become the mistress of her own
destiny, wherever that may lead...
Stolen Nights is a complicated read; not necessarily so in terms of plot, but rather as a result of an emotional attachment that formed quickly and with surprising strength in the opening chapters of Infinite Days before quieting as Lenah’s human journey continued, only to return and be played upon with deft fingers in this second installment. Rhode’s sacrifice for Lenah in the first book had a profound impact, the utter love and devotion he felt for her creating a specter that continually raised the fine hairs on our arms as memories of him danced through Lenah’s mind, and while our affection for Justin grew as the story progressed, the indelible marks left by Rhode’s fingers around our hearts remained. Now in Stolen Nights, those marks return with a painful vengeance, Justin’s ability to staunch some of the emotional bleeding rendered completely ineffective in the face of Rhode’s presence as a flesh and blood mortal.
A character with whom a deep and poignant emotional connection is formed despite limited page time is rare, but so is one such as Rhode Lewin, therefore his effect on us should come as no surprise. Our time with him in Stolen Nights is granted in brief snippets, but just as was the case with Infinite Days, so much feeling is communicated by his very presence, and we feel the full weight of his love, his frustration and his pain as he struggles in this new life settle heavily into our bones. Our previous affection for Justin seems to disintegrate almost immediately once we realize Rhode’s survived the ritual as Lenah has, shocking us a bit with our own fickleness until we realize Rhode has owned our love and loyalty from his first appearance, making the emotional entanglements between the three of them all the more complex.
Lenah is as stripped bare by Rhode’s return as we are, her months-long relationship with Justin no match for her centuries-long relationship with him, but a cruel decree rubs salt in an already open and raw wound, creating chaos from the order Lenah had created with her selfless act to save Vicken at the end of book one. Though it’s clear to us that if circumstances were different Lenah would move heaven and earth to be with Rhode again, some of the selfishness so inherent in a vampire’s makeup seems to rise to the surface despite her current mortality as she repeatedly turns to Justin as a balm to soothe the pain of Rhode’s proximity. Her actions are something we understand logically, knowing the wounds Rhode tears open his with unexpected arrival are not ones she can simply close on her own, but she does at times test the boundaries of our tolerance, continually thinking only of her own pain without once acknowledging either Rhode’s or Justin’s.
Though Lenah’s thoughts are self-centered for majority of the book, the conclusion sees the expansion of her previous tunnel vision, her mistakes with Rhode, Justin, Vicken and so many of those she’s met in her extraordinarily long life made clear and accepted, complete with a gut-wrenching remedy that leaves us numb save for a throbbing ache in our chests. An epilogue from Rhode himself thankfully leaves us with a spark of hope that perhaps things for Lenah and company will not be left as they are, and we may all be given one more chance to see Lenah and Rhode as we so desperately wish them to be.