Gripping and intense from the beginning with brutal tournaments and a passionate romance. The Serpent and the Wings of Night is exactly what I wanted from a Hunger Games vampire romance with shades of real world mythology and lots of serious consequences.
I’m going to do my best to review this without giving away any spoilers that aren’t already revealed in the summary.
So real fast, who is this for?
If you enjoy horror, fantasy, and romance, this is for you. If you want a fast-paced intense story that cuts you through the heart, this is for you. If you want a Castlevania-styled world where, at least where we’re at, the vampires have pretty much won and a Hunger Games-styled battle to the death where a few vampires (and in this case a human woman) brawl to the death in the hopes of gaining one wish for Nyaxia, this is for you. If you want enemies-to-lovers, brooding bad boy with soft center, angry heroine who actually trained and prepared for all this, trusting your enemy/having to rely on your enemy, only one cave, one last night, overcoming trauma, touch starved character, mortal combat, and more, this is for you.
As a reader who enjoys horror as well as romantic fantasy, this fuses the genres well without skimping. As such, it is darker and heavier than a lot of what is referred to as dark romantic fantasy. If this were a movie, it would be rated R, and it earns that without being gratuitous. Early on, we get the description and details of how much strength it takes to slice through the breast bone when stabbing someone through the heart.
Oraya’s character is one based on precision and caution, an individual who lives in intense danger. She is especially strong in my opinion because of the emotions woven through her. Anger in particular. Determination. Frustration. This is not a character who is made overpowered and whose enemies are made weak to give her a break (and if suddenly they were weakened, I’d be asking okay, who set this trap). There’s a harshness in this world.
In some respects, she reminds me of that poem by Caitlin Seida: “Hope Is Not a Bird, Emily, It’s a Sewer Rat.” It summarizes a particular kind of hope that struggles and fights and wears its battles on its shoulders and back.
Raihn offers an intriguing mirror with some similarities and distinctions. And a lot more softness than is usually woven into a character in his situation. I might need to do more of a spoiler based
I also very much appreciated the comments regarding time, as I too am a being fighting against time. And fairly certain I’m losing.
Now for the romance. Raihn obviously steals the show. He shows up in a way that makes it clear that he is a contemplative broody fellow with more on his mind than sex and death, and while we know he’s dangerous, he’s also…intriguing. He is a compelling character who I know will be giving us more surprises as the story continues. I loved it. I ship it. It breaks my heart, and I know my heart is going to get broken even more.
This world also boasts a rich mythology, which you know I love. It’s got layers. And while I can do with some heavy infodumping in service of a good story, this doesn’t have that. A lot of the history and lore is woven into the story as you go through these trials and challenges with Oraya. Small touches throughout really take this to the next level. You can’t really skimread this one though. There are important details woven throughout.
It left me with a lot of questions, but I trust Carissa to answer them all. I am eagerly awaiting the continuation of this series, with The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King potentially due to launch on April 14.
Have you read this? Did you enjoy it? Share your thoughts here and come along and celebrate with us as we enjoy being alive and celebrating great stories and more specifically the Night of Blood where we are all very happy we do not have to fight in the Kejari!