Venom by Bex Hogan – REVIEW
Marianne has never wanted to be a fighter, but with unrest and discord threatening the Twelve Islands, she will have to battle threats both inside and out in an attempt to attain peace for her homeland.
Marianne is now the Viper, but her hopes for peace in the Eastern Isles are being frustrated. The corrupt King remains on the throne, bandits are proving hard to stop and Marianne is not sure who among her crew she can truly trust.
For the islands to prosper, the invisible bond that once existed uniting land and sea must be reinstated. There’s only one way that can happen – the return of magic. To do that Marianne must put aside all her fears: she must return to her roots, the Western Isles, and call on the power that runs in her blood.
She must become a Mage.
Only then, can she possibly command the army needed to finally take down the King.
*** This review contains mild spoilers for Viper. ***
“Love is a magic far more powerful than any I can ever hope to weave.”
I’m a huge fan of Bex Hogan’s debut novel, Viper, so I was incredibly excited to read the sequel as soon as I could get my hands on a copy. Thankfully, Blackwells delivered it one week early so I was able to devour it quickly and it definitely didn’t disappoint. From the very beginning, this book kept surprising me; every time I thought I knew what would happen next, the author turned everything on its head. This book certainly had a darker tone than the first, with a sense of foreboding hanging over most of the action and I frequently feared for my favourite characters. In addition, tensions abound between previously close characters as unvoiced ambitions threaten to tear them apart, meaning some relationships will never be the same again.
“What matters most? Viper, Queen or Mage?”
Marianne remains a fascinating character and Venom allowed her the room to breathe and develop organically, especially in regards to her magic and royal bloodline. I love how Marianne is subject to fits of consuming anger and a thirst for vengeance, with her subsequent magic exposing her to the possibility of corruption. Her battle with these darker emotions allows her character to become fully realised and intriguingly complex. The action of this book follows Marianne as she ventures alone to the Western Isles so we don’t see a lot of the characters we met in the previous book (I missed cinnamon-roll Torin a lot) but I loved the addition of new characters such as Olwyn, Ravyn, Astrid, Mordecai and Jax. For fans of Bex, you’ll know no character is ever safe so be prepared to shed tears.
“I can’t fight life any more. And so I just fight. If this is it, then I’ll fight to my death.”
The setting is also expanded further as Marianne visits Snow Isle (eighth isle), Blood Isle (ninth isle), and the Jewel of the West (twelfth isle). As she uncovers more of her past, a new mystery regarding her parents begins to unravel alongside the main action of the plot. The antagonists in this book were all well-developed and believable, and, as the fast-paced action ramps up, things are irrevocably changed. Readers should be aware that some content may be triggering as this book features torture and attempted rape. The final scene was absolutely brutal and will leave you screaming to find out what happens next – I’m hoping my suspicions are correct as it will be a devastating third book if they’re not! Venom is no victim of the sophomore slump, instead offering an incredible tale of magic and pirates, a breathtaking plot, and unforgettable characters.