My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)
I have been anxiously waiting for Kristen Callihan’s newest Darkest London book ever since I finished Shadowdance. This series has gotten better with each subsequent book. With Shadowdance the author took the series in a new direction and continues with it in Evernight and I couldn’t be more pleased. The focus on the SOS (Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals) has opened up so many more avenues for this series, and brings new opportunities for readers to explore this alternative London.
Holly Evernight and Will Thorne were introduced in Shadowdance. Holly is a member of the SOS and Thorne a member of the opposing faction. Both were kidnapped in the previous book and Holly was forced to experiment on Thorne. At the beginning of Evernight Holly and Thorne are both recovering from their ordeal and not very well at that. Holly has secluded herself in her home and Thorne finds himself turning into something else altogether.
Holly and Thorne are thrown together once more when Thorne arrives on Holly’s doorstep with revenge in mind. He barely remembers what happened to him when he was tortured, but he does remember Holly and the part that she played. However, Thorne soon learns that Holly might be the only one to cure him, or at the very least keep his encroaching “disease” at bay. This might pose a problem for Holly since someone other than Thorne is out to get her. Luckily, she now has a built in protector since Thorne literally cannot live without her. This forced partnership soon breeds more than animosity.
For the most part, I really enjoyed Evernight. There were a couple of things that I didn’t personally like as a reader, but I didn’t write the book so I can’t complain about it. It’s a matter of personal taste, so I wont go into it here.
As usual with Callihan, Evernight was action-packed and perfectly balanced with a wonderful, emotional romance. From the start, Darkest London has been characterized by it’s intense and emotional romances. There’s no reading between the lines here to determine how the hero and heroine feel about each other, it’s explicit and what’s more, it’s believable. While Evernight also had that characteristic emotional quality, it was also a breath of fresh air. Despite the dark themes of torture and complicated characterizations of the hero and heroine, this one was actually quite lighthearted and funny. Holly is quite analytical, and as a result, many of her exchanges with Thorne are touched with humour. One such instance is when Holly frets about her duties as a hostess to Thorne and his certain vampiric needs…
“I ought to tell you know. I cannot provide you with blood.”
Will’s gaze flickered to the pulse beating at the tender hollow of her neck before meeting her eyes once more. Weariness and caution there. Disgust, too. He bristled. “I do not recall asking for blood.”
“I was not referring to myself, of course,” she went on plainly. “I meant that I cannot have blood brought in for you. I realize that makes me a bad hostess, but there it is. I cannot condone it.”
A hostess? Is that what she fancied herself to be in this scenario? “And I suppose you do not eat all manner of beasts here? Rare roast beef with your pudding?”
“None that are bipedal, Mr. Thorne.”
“You should know, he said, “that blood is not the only thing I take for nourishment.”
He almost laughed at the way her expression grew closed off, that small nose of hers lifting in a haughty manner. Oh, he knew precisely what she was thinking now.
Not that she left it show in her neutral tone. “I thought that sanguis only imbue blood and – “
“Fuck anything we can get our hands on,” he supplied helpfully.
She blinked. Then stared.
Will rolled his eyes skyward. “Aside from all that, I can drink most beverages. Except for lemonade.”
“Why not lemonade?”
“Because I hate it.” He laughed when her eyes narrowed. “Hot chocolate,” he told her, “is my favorite.” (p. 31-32)
Throughout Everknight Will continues to enjoy ruffling Holly’s feathers and getting some sort of reaction from her. For her part, Holly equally enjoys shocking Will, only her approach is more matter-of-fact than deliberately funny. And while there are many funny exchanges between these two it is never at the expense of the development of their relationship, rather it adds another dimension to it.
Now I also mentioned that the author continues to move her series in a new direction with Evernight and in this book this alternate London and the creatures that inhabit it is significantly expanded. With the first three books the author focused on three sisters for the most part, but with Shadowdance and Evernight, readers are introduced to demons, sanguis, and the fae that also run amok in the city as well as new characters. While I’ve never been a fan of “the fae” as a creature feature in the books that I read, I like the way that the author it handling these changes. The fae are clearly going to play a large role in Soulbound and possibly subsequent books.
Readers of Evernight should also be aware that there is a substantial tease for Soulbound as the setup is established with Adam (creator of the GIM) and his heroine, Eliza May. I find the premise somewhat problematic considering Adam’s “possession” of Eliza May in this book, but also curious as to how the author is going to bring these two to a happily ever after considering their rather inauspicious beginning.
Ultimately, I do not think fans of Darkest London will be disappointed with Holly and Throne’s story. It was fun, action-packed and never became predictable. While it’s possible to read this as a standalone novel, I really think it’s better to read the books in order as to understand the world that the author is creating. While the romance is central to the plot, the rules of Darkest London have been set and expanded on in each subsequent book, so start with book one, Firelight.
While Nalini Singh is not writing steampunk, I think fans of Darkest London will also appreciate the combination of romance with an interesting world. Singh’s romances also have the same “intense” quality that Callihan’s do. Start with Slave to Sensation.
For another great steampunk romance series, I recommend Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series. There are not as many creatures in this series as Callihan’s but it involves a complex hierarchy in an alternative London. Start with Kiss of Steel, which also reminds me somewhat of the dynamic between Holly and Thorne.
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris’ Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is not really focused on the paranormal or romance. This steampunk series relies much more of gadgetry, but I felt it needed to be included because the concept of the Ministry reminds me of the SOS. Start with Phoenix Rising.