THE VANISHING by Karla Nikole

Nearly two centuries ago, hundreds of purebred vampires disappeared without any explanation—vanished like mist swept away in the breeze.

Nino Bianchi and Haruka Hirano are mated purebred vampires: madly in love and exploring the depths of their young bond. But an unexpected event brings their cozy lives to a screeching halt. A new vanishing, much too close to home.

The world of Lore and Lust stretches deeper with more romance, mystery, love and trust. A queer vampire love story full of heart and delicious heat.


Title : The Vanishing
Author : Karla Nikole
Series : Lore & Lust (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 338
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Karla Nikole Publishing
Release Date : February 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

On the one hand, a lot more happened in this instalment compared to book one, which had been one of my big complaints, but overall.. I’m sorry, I’m still not really getting this series.

I still don’t fully comprehend this vampire society, aristocracy, hierarchy, whatever, but we did get some insight behind — go figure — the big Vanishing; which was basically the complete loss of the English pureblood (purebred?) population. Why only England I have no idea but I’m just chocking that one upto one more thing I don’t understand and just kinda rolling with it. That said, the reason for it, and the villain behind it, feels pretty flimsy. Maybe we’ll get more about that in book three.

In this book we had two romances playing out, the one from book one and another between characters connected to the main protagonists. It offered up something different and, dare I say it, more interesting.

That said, where Nino had been my favourite character in book one, there was a certain interaction with his brother that changed my opinion of him. And a few other revelations and observations from his best friend added to that. Somehow Nino’s brother Giovanni, grumpy alpha asshole who nonetheless shoulders so much responsibility and does so much for Nino, now holds the top spot.

Aside from that positive, I’m still struggling with the writing, the weird dialogue, plus all the aforementioned plot and worldbuilding weirdness, and sometimes the chapters ends abruptly or we transition into something in a strange manner. But it’s also just that.. I just don’t understand the point. This time there was less focus on the Lore & Lust book, at least in talking about it, but instead Haruka is translating stuff with a family and I just.. I don’t understand why?

This whole series is just befuddling to me.

I’m going to see through this series to the end, the third (and final?) book is out in the fall, but unless things really take off I’m not sure I would pick up this author again.

DARK WATERS by Katherine Arden

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces and Dead Voices.

Having met and outsmarted the smiling man in Dead Voices but fearful of when he’ll come again, Ollie, Brian, and Coco are anxiously searching for a way to defeat him once and for all. By staying together and avoiding remote places, they’ve steered clear of him so far but their constant worry and stress is taking a toll on their lives and friendship. So when Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom plan a “fun” boat trip on Lake Champlain, the three are apprehensive to say the least. They haven’t had the best of luck on their recent trips and even worse their frenemy Phil is on the boat as well. But when a lake monster destroys their boat, they end up shipwrecked on a deserted island. This isn’t just any island though. It’s hidden from the outside world in a fog and unless everyone works together to find a way to escape, they won’t survive long. 


Title : Dark Waters
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Small Spaces (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 256
Genre : MG paranormal fantasy
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young 
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

First of all, that cover? Amazing. It’s definitely my favourite of the series. But this didn’t nudge out book two for sheer spooky creepy excellence, unfortunately.

Now spring (following fall and then winter themes for books one and two), this trio of besties are still researching ways to defeat their nemesis the Smiling Man. Their adventures have taken a toll, as has their preoccupation, and so they jump on the opportunity to spend some time outdoors, away from small spaces and mirrors and any situation that might provoke another encounter, and go sailing. But they still can’t escape a brush, and more, with the otherworldly forces.

This particular scary story didn’t grip me quite the same way as the last book; Arden still did a great job with the vibe, and sending a few twists along the way (the ghost in this story was so good, and heartbreaking), but the story didn’t feel as tight or focused. I wish it had been longer, had spent more time building some suspense, digging into the feeling of isolation or more. But maybe that’s just the adult in me talking. That said, this did feel more like a build up to the cliffhanger and thus the big finale to come in book four. I still did enjoy it, though, and especially loved seeing the parents get mixed into things, as well as a new friend. Mostly, I’m just excited to reread/binge this series when book four comes out.

If you, or the younger human in your life, is into the spookier side of things ala Goosebumps, I definitely recommend.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE by Victoria Lee

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself. 


Title : A Lesson in Vengeance
Author : Victoria Lee
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ paranormal/thriller
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I think this would’ve worked so much better if, like one of the comp titles, this had been an adult (or at least new adult) novel. I think so much of what I struggled with, or found hard to believe, could have been easier to swallow if this had been aged up.

That said, I really enjoyed the first half of the story. We open up with our main character returning to this elite/exclusive/preppy highschool, almost like a pre-college collegiate style school, after time away in recovery from her girlfriend’s death. She soon finds being back on campus is damaging to her ability to discern reality from the belief that she’s being haunted; not by her girlfriend (or not only..) but by the ghosts of girls long dead who are built into the history, the mythology, of the school. Felicity sees things, feels things, and it makes the reader question her reliability as a narrator; is she delusional, is her grief causing her prior obsession with witchcraft, with the dead girls, making her see things that aren’t there or are these manifestations actually real?

.. grief would tie itself to the small things, that I’d be living my life as normal and then a bit of music or the cut of a girl’s smile would remind me of her and it would all flood back in.

Felicity’s journey, her obsession, her grief, her hauntings, they were all compelling. Where I started to side-eye things was with.. well, almost everything else. Certain characters, with certain influences and motivations, and how transparent it all seemed. And also, my biggest problem really, was just.. why? Maybe there wasn’t supposed to be a why. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

There was one big exception to the transparent bit, though. Something I definitely didn’t see coming. And I loved it? I don’t think many will. Infact, I think the ending in general will be polarizing. You’ve been warned!

I was definitely a bit hesitant going into this, no matter how pumped I was over the concept, because I had a rough go with Lee’s debut series. This? I loved the writing, I loved the dip in and out of spooky paranormal horror, the uncertainty of it all. I started this late at night and I won’t say it scared me but oh did it do a good job with the eerie vibes.

This might not have been a solid win but parts of it worked so so well for me. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author, especially if they write more in this darker vein, but I think Lee would absolutely excel at an adult story. I hope one day it happens.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

LORE & LUST by Karla Nikole

The slow burn vampire romance you didn’t know you needed…

Haruka Hirano is alive, but not quite living. Surviving but not thriving. As an elite purebred vampire in the twenty-first century, he is broken. Content in his subpar existence.

He is done with life. But life is not finished with him.

When he receives a formal request to oversee an antiquated vampire ritual at Hertsmonceux Castle, Haruka grudgingly leaves his home to meet another purebred. The vampire is not what he expects. Truly, he is unlike any vampire Haruka has ever encountered: cautious, innocent and with the warmth and gravitational pull of the sun.

Lore and Lust is an exploration of cultures, contemporary society and romance. It puts a whimsical spin on traditional vampire lore, while also creating a vivid new world where love is love. No questions asked.


Title : Lore & Lust
Author : Karla Nikole
Series : Lore & Lust (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 284
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Karla Nikole Publishing
Release Date : October 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Surprising no one, I have disappointed buddies once again by not being able to love a non-recommendation (they don’t recommend books to me anymore, this is my fault, not theirs). To be fair, I think I expected something very different from this because despite of the title, and because of what many of us have grown accustomed to with vampires/paranormal plots. So, heads up : this is very slow moving and more sweet than angsty and violent or dark.

This actually gave me some All Souls series vibes as one of the plot points surrounds this document one of the main characters has in his possession which details accounts and records of vampires who have bonded (mated, for context) and the circumstances around that. And some random vampire suddenly seems really keen to get his hands on it. But that’s likely where the comparison stops. However it also gave me Mortal & Divine series vibes with some of the formality in both customs and speech, not to mention the fact that there’s aristocracy and clans with these particular vampires, but, again, that’s where that comparison stops, too.

It’s definitely a unique take on vampires as a culture, sort’ve in line with Regency era behaviours, except also.. not. Because these vampires are almost all exhaustingly useless and rude and entitled but simultaneously thirsty (and not just literally) AF. And I found most of them hard to endure. Some of which, in a different sense, spilled over onto one of the main characters, Haruka. I could sorta feel bad for what he had gone through, how insufferably he was constantly treated by others (which I mean.. I still feel like I didn’t get a good handle on the why behind this? was it just snowflake syndrome and he was just All That? still not clear). But the only character I actually liked was our other lead, Nino.

Aspects of this world was interesting, how the vampires mingled (or didn’t) with humans, how apparently they are not apart but worked into knowledge and existence (again, not a hundred percent clear on this, either), and the whole bloodline thing. But was I liking anything? Not really. Did anything really happen? Also not really. This was pretty slow, both in plot — of which there is no action only weird discussions about art and politics? these vampires are so weird — and also in romance, but we do at least get some satisfaction on the latter before the end of this instalment.

I struggled a bit with the writing, too, and how descriptors were constantly repeated and used as reference to people; male, dark, male, dark, etc. In addition the tense this was written in (third person present) just kept throwing me out of the story; and considering I struggled to connect to begin with, and then stay connected, it just all added to being checked out.

Overall, though? This just wasn’t what I thought it was and while the second half was easier to chew through than the first, I can’t claim to be a fan. But once my fellow buddy reader (hi buddy!) catches up, I’ll be reading on. Hopefully book two offers something more exciting; but if not at least I’m prepared for it.

A DOWRY OF BLOOD by S.T. Gibson

A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation. 

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets. 

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death. 


Title : A Dowry of Blood
Author : S.T. Gibson
Format : eBook
Page Count : 248
Genre : historical fiction fantasy
Publisher : Nyx Publishing
Release Date : January 31, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Maybe had I not been disliking so much of what I have been reading this wouldn’t have been as memorable. Or maybe it just is that good. I can’t tell anymore.

I should have paid more attention to the convenience with which you arrived. There are no angels in this world to accompany the dying in their final moments, only pickpockets and carrion birds.

A Dowry of Blood is a sorta epistolary/memoir-style recounting of what basically amounts to the brides of Dracula, even though she never names him, and their undead lives over the course of centuries. Much like the first bride, Constanta, I was enthralled. Not only in the story but how it was told.

This isn’t very long, there are passages of time we only get vague explanations for, but the retelling of events centers around three specific brides, and how the arrival of each changed the dynamic of Constanta’s relationship and inevitably led to its downfall; by unmasking the abuse hidden just below the surface of a suffocating love used as an excuse for control. Each bride responds to it differently and I thought the author’s choices in this regard were so well done.

It’s not only all that and a bag of chips but it’s also sapphic, it’s also queer, and it’s almost novella-like. The winning just doesn’t quit.

Definitely recommend if this seems like your jam.

PAROUSIA by Laura Lascarso

After months of imprisonment, Vincent is struggling to adapt to the outside world. His body and mind are strangers to him, and Henri, his one constant his entire life, doesn’t understand the man he’s become.

Henri wants Vincent to take time to heal, but the revolution is rapidly unfolding with the thirteen tribes amassing at their doorstep to plot the Imperium—and Azrael’s—demise. Vincent gets swept up in the conflict and in doing so, puts himself in harm’s way. Parousia be damned, Henri will not to allow Vincent to become a martyr for the cause.

With his demoness mother at the helm of their campaign, Vincent must battle Lena’s ambitions and the other tribes’ gambits to usurp power if their revolution is to be successful. But he’ll never succeed with Henri obstructing him at every turn.

Both men are in love and at war with each other, but only one of them can rule.

Parousia is the final installment of the Mortal and Divine trilogy. Revenge never tasted so sweet, or so bloody.


Title : Parousia
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and Divine (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 390
Genre : paranormal romance / LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : February 7, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Listen. I am hella privileged to be one of the beta-ish readers for these books so it’s impossible to say that I am totally unbiased about this world after being in it for so long.

This series, in general, is delightful because it feels different from so many other paranormal romances out there, queer or otherwise, and because it’s just dark enough to thrill you without leaning too hard on any particular buttons. This finale I think maybe dialed it up a notch or two from book two but book one definitely takes the cake for darkest. So hopefully that reassures anyone who starts into this world but wonders where it might go.

That said, seeing as this is a finale, am I going to spoil anything? Hahah nope. Will I tease? Yes. The steam will have you reaching for a fan, the soft moments will have you melting, the stakes will have you clutching for a hand hold, and the snark will definitely inspire a laugh or three.

Lascarso has created a complex mythology and many an intrigue and this final book in the Mortal and Divine world really fleshes out the bigger picture of the whole conflict that has been building since the start.

But at it’s core this really is just about two souls and the lengths they would go for each other — the sacrifices, yes, but also promises they break, thinking only to protect. These two are such a perfect fit but not seamless, very much their own part of the tapestry, and their battles on the grand scale never precludes them from battling each other, and sometimes that means crossing lines, making mistakes.. and it’s such a real evolution, a give and take, and I loved the dynamic, especially when it wasn’t perfect.

This has been such a great ride and while I’m sad it’s over I can’t wait to see where Lascarso will go next.

** I received an ARC the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

WHAT BIG TEETH by Rose Szabo

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak. 

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help. 

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.


Title : What Big Teeth
Author : Rose Szabo
Format : eARC
Page Count : 226
Genre : YA fantasy/paranormal thriller
Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

This wasn’t quite what I was expecting after being hooked by that absolutely incredible cover and then, very quickly after, by the pitch.

I honestly don’t quite know what this was. It’s such a hodge podge of so many things, and almost feels like twelve different stories in one — a bizarre mix of everything in the pantry plus the kitchen sink — and so sometimes I would love a taste, other times I would wonder who thought to mix such things together and why, and then even still I would just be hunting for the other shoe before it could drop.. even though I thought I was already wearing both shoes. Does any of this make sense? Likely not. Probably because of so many mixed metaphors. But it feels fitting.

I was tempted to leave this unrated because I truly don’t know how to feel about this but ultimately even considering the bits I liked, it all just feels like.. not cohesive? Weirdly stitched together? Better yet.. you know that feeling you get when your long sleeved shirt is bunched up high on your arm under your hoodie? The shirt is comfortable, the sweatshirt even moreso, but you are highly uncomfortable anyway. That’s maybe the best I can do. Separately everything about this, on its own, and maybe even in some combinations, are things I like. All together? Bizarre. Strange. Weird. Pick a synonym.

Having said that, there is definitely going to be an audience for this. I read this two months early and I already see a lot of advance praise for it. So take this review, as always, with a grain o’salt.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

HAVOC & HAPPINESS by Wren Handman

Michaela Peters didn’t let dying get her down.

After all, it was only for a few minutes, and the hospital paid her a huge settlement. Now she’s an emancipated minor with nine million dollars in the bank and her entire future ahead of her. Life could be a heck of a lot worse!

Michaela moves to Montana, determined to enjoy the queer high-school drama that life is serving up. Instead, she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a fight between horrible monsters that shift with a person’s imagination, and the gorgeous trigger-happy siblings who hunt them. The problem? She seems to be able to destroy the monsters with a thought, but the hunters haven’t decided which side she’s on. 



Title : Havoc & Happiness
Author : Wren Handman
Series : Agathi Adventure (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 290
Genre : YA paranormal / LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Wandering Roots
Release Date : October 26, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 3.5 star review

The easiest way to pitch this book is Supernatural meets Kaylee, from Firefly, if she was queer.. and also sixteen. Look, the pitch isn’t perfect but that’s the vibe. Our main character is a relentlessly cheerful and hopeful human and honestly if Kaylee isn’t the first person you think of, who is? But I digress.

Michaela, the protagonist of HAVOC & HAPPINESS, has been dealt a hand that would bring lesser humans low. And somehow she keeps on going, and with a smile on her face. Add to that the fact that she’s left the foster system, emancipated herself, and willingly thrown herself into a new school, trying to make new friends, all while living on her own. Said new school comes with plenty of drama.. even before she stumbles across a dead body and the siblings who are hunting the thing that did the killing.

The Supernatural vibes are strong in this one but it’s balanced by the total opposite of that show’s dark and brutal aesthetic. The tone is light even as it tackles heavy topics like grief, abandonment, and a few other things I don’t want to mention because spoilers, and as a bonus it’s also diverse af.

Also? This is the first book in what might be a trilogy, but I think will actually be a duology. So if you’re looking for a new paranormal series to lose yourself in that’s got a healthy portion of romance, angst, trying to find one’s place in a world that is more complex than at first glance, as well as the strangeness of monster hunting stakeouts, all while balancing homework and highschool parties, this would be one to try!

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

GOLDEN EAGLE by Lauren Gilley

In 1942, Chekist Captain Nikita Baskin led his elite group of Soviet Secret Police into the wilds of Siberia on a mission to retrieve a “volunteer.” 

Sasha Kashnikov, Tomsk University student and trapper’s son, became a werewolf, an intended weapon against the Nazis. But in truth, he was meant to be the Familiar of the vampire Rasputin. 

In a clearing north of Stalingrad, amid blood-stained snow, Rasputin died, the pack burned, and Nikita and Sasha set off toward eternity together, bound by tragedy, and trust, and a tenderness neither would name. 

In modern day New York, their pack of two has grown to include two detectives, an artist, and the former tsarevich of Russia. And after what occurred in Virginia, Nikita and Sasha have reached a breaking point. Sasha, an unusually strong alpha wolf, remains unbound, and the forces on all sides of the looming war will want a chance to claim him – to make him a weapon again. 

All Nik has ever wanted to do was protect his precious Sashka. 

And all Sasha wants is to be more than a friend and little brother to the man – the vampire – he loves most. 


Title : Golden Eagle
Author : Lauren Gilley
Series : Sons of Rome (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 661
Genre : paranormal / historical fiction
Publisher : HP Press
Release Date : December 23, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

It may have been my own fault for reading books three and four back-to-back, after having put some space between the first three, but this is easily my least favourite of the series. Nothing awful, and certainly not worth giving up on, nor even a reason to not consider the series if you haven’t yet, but.. not my favourite.

In complete contrast to book three, in Golden Eagle we spend all our time in present day and reunite with.. well, pretty much everyone we’ve met across this series. We also got some payoff I was hoping for as far back as book one. But it left me with some pretty mixed feelings because I felt a lot of the characters, or maybe just moments, felt so out of character. Which was frustrating because there are so many characters in this world in general and many that I can pretty definitively say I do not like — or only tolerate. So to be stuck with everyone and to have the ones I do love.. feel strange? Mixed bag.

This was the most romance heavy of the series which I definitely would’ve loved had my precious beans felt a little more like themselves but it wasn’t all bad. Some moments? Pure swoon, pure loveliness, pure steam. But it does give the reader a bit of whiplash going from very different tones in each book. It keeps it interesting, that’s for sure, particularly considering the wordcount. Just something to keep in mind, though.

That said, even with the few typos or missed punctuation marks, something I noticed started to occur in book three and we had a few more of them in this book, considering the aforementioned wordcount, considering all the history and reference points, everything that goes into this, and what the author is listing them for on amazon? Ridiculous. A steal. There is definitely a lot of good in this world, in these books, and I’m keen to still read on — but now that I’ve caught up I am in for a wait as who knows when book five is due to come out! Shucks.

DRAGON SLAYER by Lauren Gilley

n 1931, a golden-haired man in fine clothes appeared to a Siberian boy. An apparition in the snow. 

In 2018, he guided a pack of misfits to his prison. A man made of sharp smiles, and smoke, who they can hear, but can never touch. He calls himself a prince, but how much does anyone really know about Prince Valerian of Wallachia? Is he friend, or foe? Is he real at all? 

Val has spent the past 550 years as a prisoner, venturing where and when he can, dream-walking, using his powers of astral projection to escape the confines of his cell. His jailers call him “brother-killer,” and “traitor” – old rumors of the immortal realm carried forth by the sinister Ingraham Institute, a secret place hidden deep in the forest, bent on using the blood and powers of immortals to fight a gathering threat too terrible to reveal to the mortal world at large. 

Now, Val’s brother, the infamous Vlad Dracula, is awake, hellbent on stopping the boys’ wicked uncle, Romulus, once and for all. But first, the boys will have to come to terms with one another – and perhaps finally come to understand the tragedies that played out almost six centuries ago. 

In Book Three of the Sons of Rome Series, dream-walk to 15th century Romania, to a Wallachia besieged by the Ottoman Empire, and two immortal brothers fighting for their lives. Inspired by the true story of Vlad Dracula, and his family, Dragon Slayer travels from the palace at Tîrgovişte, to the Ottoman court, to the siege of Byzantium. A tale of brothers, and betrayal; of captivity, and revenge. 

The immortals of the world are gathering, and Vlad and Val, the original sons of Rome, stand poised to lead the charge against a timeless evil. If only they can keep from killing one another… 


Title : Dragon Slayer
Author : Lauren Gilley
Series : Sons of Rome (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 791
Genre : paranormal / historical fiction
Publisher : HP Press
Release Date : April 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I wish this was an easy, uncomplicated, round-up to four star book but I struggled a bit with this one.

I was so excited to have more historical storytelling in this world, because it’s been some of the bits I’ve loved the most, and Gilley gave me that.. and then more. And more. And more. Do you see that page count? This book is hella long. And I definitely feel like it did not need to be as long as it was. There is no doubt that history is one of this author’s passions, or she’s just incredibly committed to her plot, and her research alone and dedication to that time period? Definitely deserves recognition. I just wish it had all felt necessary to the plot, you know? Most, sure. All? For me, no.

I liked the beginning, I even like the reason for how and why we got thrown into the past, and for a while it was working for me. But there was a lot of information and time to slog through before we shifted gears back to the present, which I didn’t think I would have anticipated as much as I did, but that’s where this book really felt solid.

I think what surprised me was how.. soft some of these characters were. Val, in particular. I mean, if you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. I just want to hug him. Even Vlad the bloody Impaler had his moments. Though I’m not quite sure I bought some of the rationale regarding the latter’s behaviour.. even with all (and I mean all) that backstory. It felt a little flimsy. Likewise, I feel like Val had the ability to do certain things to connect with his family during a specific and critical time and didn’t and.. I also don’t quite know why. So I feel like part of this was a little tough to get behind. Which is what adds to my mixed feelings, particularly considering the word count and everything we had to get through to circle back to where we ended up in book two.

So I’m happy this ended on a strong note otherwise I would be sad. We had quite a few surprises in the last 20% or so; things didn’t go quite how I expected, and one of those surprises had me sitting straight up with what I’m sure was a dumfounded !!! look on my face. I caught the foreshadowing literally the paragraph before but I was still unprepared. And then we get that last chapter which leaves us hanging after another surprise kick to the face and boy oh boy if I didn’t have book four already on my kindle.. that said, if we don’t get some rewind time with the New York crew? Imma be mad.

So, yes, for all my whining about wanting more “in days gone by..”, Gilley definitely heaped far too many helpings onto my plate. I am definitely soft over all these characters (honestly, it’s kind of ridiculous how precious they all are..), and though it is obviously not a quick read, it’s still worth it. I’m hoping book four knocks it out of the park, though!