Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.
Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.
This review will contain spoilers for book one, Vicious
I have returned to this universe! Vengeful is the first book I ever pre-ordered (even managed to get the UK edition because I hate the US cover) and as is tradition, proceeded to collect dust on my bookshelf for three years. I wasn’t actually planning to read this anytime soon, but the missing aro/ace entry for the 2020-2021 /r/Fantasy bingo forced my hand and damn, I should have gotten to this sooner. One of my favorite genres is ‘terrible people doing terrible things’ and this series just fits that category so so well.
Victor Vale, once again, steals the show and my heart. He’s just such a likeable terrible person. Only this time, he’s got a crew and a teenage girl to take care of, while also having to battle increasingly frequent dying spells due to a faulty resurrections. I can’t say he’s changed much, beyond maybe the comfort of knowing Eli’s been locked away, but I adore his character as is so I really don’t think he needs to change. Still the lovable, sociopathic villain that you just can’t help but support.
I remember reading during the publicity/marketing cycle pre-publication that if Vicious made you see the story from Victor’s perspective, Vengeful will do that for Eli. I fully admit I had no love for Eli beyond the missed ‘lovers-to-enemies’ trope he could have filled with Victor and I find it extremely hard to sympathize with religious extremists so I had my doubts. After reading, well, okay yeah I feel bad for him. His backstory is pretty unfortunate. Do I like him? Hell no! Do I even remotely understand Eli’s perspective? Still no. But that was a tall order to begin with and again, I don’t vibe with religion.
Of the supporting cast, I was surprised by how much I grew to love Sydney. She was a cute sidekick in book one, but she really grows out to be her own character here. I especially appreciate that Sydney has no disillusions of what kind of world she’s in, of what kind of people she’s growing up around. There’s no moral dilemma, no desire to be ‘normal’, etc etc. It certainly helps that even the ‘good guys’ are pretty terrible in their own right. Her sibling-like relationship with Victor and her budding friendship with the new EO June were really cool developments on her character and I’m interested in seeing what role she’ll have in book 3.
We also get two new characters introduced, the aforementioned June and rising mob wife Marcella. June, while mysterious and surprisingly protective of Sydney, doesn’t really get a lot of character development beyond those two points and I’ll be interested to see where her character is taken. I’m absolutely fascinated with how her power works, but also very confused by why there aren’t more new reports of random people dying of impossible wounds across the globe. Marcella I found, well, interesting I suppose. I liked her drive and her motivation, and her willingness to be just unrepentantly “evil” and doing so in style was awesome. I liked her a lot less whenever she got dialogue. Marcella speaks like a walking #girlboss slogan generator and while yes, yay women doing things men do, her character felt extremely one-note because it never developed into anything more.
My one other complaint with this book is that the ending feels way too rushed. Vicious and Vengeful are both written in a very quick-paced, action-packed style that I really like and I think is quite fitting for a superhero/supervillain setting. However, the climax occurs over what feels like three chapters (three veeeeery small chapters) and there are multiple major deaths that don’t seem to get enough time to settle before it’s on with the next action scene. And these are major confrontations! The whole book built up to these confrontations! In that sense, I felt like those characters weren’t really given the deaths they deserved.
Overall, I rate this a 4.5/5. I’m so happy to return to this world and get more Victor Vale. I was surprised by how much I grew to like Sydney and for the most part, I enjoyed the new additions to the cast. I just wish the ending didn’t feel a rushed.