More than the first two books in this series, the third feels like a love story. Derek Novak, once the gorgeous, aloof prince of vampires, acts like a boyfriend. Birthday dinner, dancing, jewelry, jealousy. Sophia has decided that, though an immortal and a murderer, Derek is her beloved and she is his forever. They both know this won’t add up: he wants to marry her and turn her into a vampire so they can be together forever, and she doesn’t want to be turned into a creature who feeds off of humans. She opts for the grow-old-and-die-one-day life, knowing that any pleasure they derive from each other in the present is just a sandcastle waiting to be knocked over by the next wave.
Wait. That seems a little weird, doesn’t it? Yeah, kind of like love. After all eros, romantic love, is the most base of all forms of love, according to the Ancient Greeks. It's still the kind a million love songs have been written about, the kind most of us seek, and above all the kind that is the wildest ride. It's just that strange thing we do.
Even stranger is the closer examination of vampire life and values that we see this far into the story. Sophia, for reasons just as morally questionable as falling in love with a vampire, ends up living in the slave beehive of The Shade called the catacombs. We get to see just how miserable the lives of the Naturals (enslaved humans born on the island) are, and thereby how depraved the vampire mindset really is. With the vampire prince in love with a human, change is inevitable and somehow Sophia is a part of that in the prophecy. Derek practices for the future by bowing to her every whim, no matter what the cost to his reputation or personal safety. Unrest brews amongst the vampires accordingly.
Meanwhile, best friend and spurned almost-lover Ben finds as much violence and lack of humanity in the hunters as he did at The Shade. Offing vampires doesn’t bring him any relief or pleasure. It’s just as much murder as killing any living thing, even if vampires are called undead. The undead can still be innocent, like Vivienne, who never drank so much as a drop of human blood. Ben is my favorite character in this book, as the only person who not only questions his own ethics, but also acts on them in a way that matters.
Everyone has cause for questioning ethics by the end of this book, and readers should be prepared for just about anything. Bella Forest is not afraid to let bad things happen to favorite characters, and let’s just say that the Novak Clan vampires are angels compared to others that are out there. But finally, finally we get some real answers to questions about Sophia’s parents, the reason she is so special, and why it’s okay for her beloved to try to eat her.
We’re not even half done here! Let’s keep going, I can’t wait to see where this series goes. I know I myself could never predict the outcome, and I love that.