Series: Villains, #2
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, urban fantasy
Vicious Rating: ★★★★★
Vengeful Rating: ★★★★★
The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab’s first adult novel.
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.
The following review will contain spoilers from Vicious, book 1 in the Villains series.
Oh how I’ve waited so long for this sequel and I was not disappointed! I fell in love with our favorite antiheroes, Eli Ever and Victor Vale, a few years ago when I read Vicious. And I just knew Vengeful was going to pack an even bigger punch.
Vengeful isn’t your typical good vs. evil or heroes vs. villains story. It is more than a villains origin story. This is a series about power, revenge, faith vs. science, and humanity. Schwab loves to toe that grey line of morality so much that I’m constantly questioning who to root for.
This book follows several POVs in the past and present timelines. While this format may not be everyone’s favorite, I truly feel like Schwab pulled this off very well, and the multiple timelines created so much build-up for the end. Schwab’s prose and world building is so much more extensive in this sequel. And the voices she gave to each of these characters had me flip flopping so much between love/hate/understanding.
Vengeful starts with a bang — one of my favorite opening scenes in a book this year — where we are introduced to Marcella: the power-hungry wife of a mobster. And if you’ve read Vicious then you’ll know how an EO (ExtraOrdinary) is born, and oh man, you are going to LOVE this murderous, angry, powerful woman.
I’m not going to talk too much about Eli and Victor’s story lines, but let’s just say they are both out for blood, albeit for different reasons. Eli is serving time while Victor’s life, and powers, seems to be slipping away. They are, quite possibly, my favorite antiheroes ever. Eli’s back story totally added another layer to his character for me, and seeing Victor slowly coming undone was heart wrenching. It is also briefly mentioned that Victor is asexual — rep that I appreciate Schwab confirming.
We are also reunited again with Sydney, Dol, Dominic, and Mitch. They may be an odd bunch, but they make a great team and I especially adored Sydney and Mitch’s relationship (like siblings). Sydney also gets her own POV which added more growth to her character. I felt myself connecting so much to her; I could feel her guilt, her feelings of loss, and her love for her found family.
But there’s another new female character that I want to briefly discuss, and that’s June. June is also extremely powerful and badass, but I couldn’t find myself really connecting with her. She spent several years corresponding with Sydney (a minor) via text, and I couldn’t help but feel awkward that June was basically… grooming Sydney? Her motives for wanting to protect Sydney were never really explained, but June kept building Sydney’s trust over time. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something and it’ll be explained later in another book (if there is going to be another one?).
I’ll just leave with this: If you love morally ambiguous characters, action, and mayhem, please pick up these books. What some of these characters do is so heinous and sick, and yet I find myself rooting for them and sympathizing with them. I’m not going to sit here and say that these hero-origin or villain-origin stories are original. But I was so immersed in the world and the backstories, and just waiting for the “final showdown” had me on the edge of my seat. There were so many gears turning, so many players in the game, I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I am begging for Schwab to write another Villains book, because I need more EOs , Victor, and Eli in my life.
Content/trigger warnings: domestic abuse, child abuse, suicide, drug use, murder/torture/experimentation.