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.
Me, having absolutely no concept of liking things in moderation: I LOVE THIS BOOK WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS.
I first read Vicious a couple years ago, and I completely inhaled it. I read it again last year and afterward, it stayed inside my heart, setting me alight from within like a candle flame. I was beyond excited for this sequel and I think my situation now is rather an object lesson in being careful what you wished for because that ending still presses hard into my ribs, making me feel simultaneously warm and sad. I NEED MORE.
Schwab wastes no time in bringing readers back into her merciless, shades-of-moral-gray world, smartly expanding it outward into new dimensions, fleshing out new characters, and seeing heads aflame, more than once.
Five years have made Victor Vale’s hatred of Eli Cardale lose its spark, its flame dampened by the fear introduced with Victor’s new unsettling reality: Victor keeps dying, again and again. Victor, it seems, has been torn and broken and put back together with half the pieces missing. He is desperate to not die, and even more than that, to live. In the collision of his whirling thoughts a plan begins to form, an architecture of gruesome messes that Victor will haul out in the hope of suturing himself back together. And Victor’s makeshift family—Sydney, Mitch, Dominic—is a lifeline to be tightly gripped… but things between them are falling apart in direct proportion to the rate at which Victor’s time is swirling away.
Good luck doesn’t seem to be something that holds the hands of Eli Cardale these days either. Captured and imprisoned, he is left tormenting himself with the notion that his most desperate desires are just out of his reach, and one name leaps to mind above and before all others: Victor.
Meanwhile, Marcella Riggins—a new EO—has made theater of murder in the town of Merit. Fear was her medium, and nightmares her art. She refuses to bow to fate and determines to embody the word that defines her: ruin. And she’s not alone. On Marcella’s side is Jonathan, a taciturn human-shield, and June, a shapeshifter whose past is shrouded in secrecy and shadows.
The one thing they all have in common? They’ve all put themselves on top of a trapdoor going directly to the bowels of hell… with absolutely no way to unlatch it.
“Power,” said the woman, “belongs to those who take it.”
Vengeful is a fast and gripping and staggeringly satisfying tightrope walk of a book. It’s so damn good. Though I wouldn’t venture to call any of the people in it “good.”
There are so many aspects of this book that leap out to me as brilliant: the examination of the grey spaces that exist between traditional definitions of good and evil, the introduction of women who were not beholden to the story of the men around them but rather had their own agency on full display, Schwab’s love of villains and antiheroes and her lilting voice, how she gives her characters power without the moral imperative to be good but does not allow them to slough off their culpability, how this book synthesizes the material in the previous book and gives it a new, different wholeness.
There’s something so disarmingly captivating about the motley collection of punctured, unpredictable, bitingly likeable individuals which makes up the heart of this book. Schwab is a skilled writer with a gift for voice and characterization. She makes every character a concrete individual with a definite presence. My old feelings for the recurring cast came softly thronging back, while I grew fond of new characters. I mean, look, they’re all terrible people, unmoored to any discernible first principles that guide their decision-making and always hoping for cruel ends to justify their brutal means, but… would I, for example, take a bullet for my asexual fashionista foster father Victor Vale? Hell yeah.
“Maybe we are broken. But we put ourselves back together. We survived. That’s what makes us so powerful. And as for family—well, blood is always family, but family doesn’t always have to be blood.”
I’m not gonna lie, the only thing sustaining me right now is the elaborate and entirely self-indulgent fantasy version that I’ve created in my mind of a world where Victor, Syd, Mitch and their thrice-dead dog are safe and together and away from *gestures vaguely* all this.