Title: The Serpent and the Wings of Night (Crowns of Nyaxia #1)
Author: Carissa Broadbent
Release Date: August 30th, 2022
Genre: Adult Fiction – Fantasy – Romance
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
New favorite right here
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Human or vampire, the rules of survival are the same: never trust, never yield, and always – always – guard your heart.
The adopted human daughter of the Nightborn vampire king, Oraya carved her place in a world designed to kill her. Her only chance to become something more than prey is entering the Kejari: a legendary tournament held by the goddess of death herself.
But winning won’t be easy amongst the most vicious warriors from all three vampire houses. To survive, Oraya is forced to make an alliance with a mysterious rival.
Everything about Raihn is dangerous. He is a ruthless vampire, an efficient killer, an enemy to her father’s crown… and her greatest competition. Yet, what terrifies Oraya most of all is that she finds herself oddly drawn to him.
But there’s no room for compassion in the Kejari. War for the House of Night brews, shattering everything that Oraya thought she knew about her home. And Raihn may understand her more than anyone – but their blossoming attraction could be her downfall, in a kingdom where nothing is more deadly than love.
The Serpent and the Wings of Night is the first book in a new series of heart-wrenching romance, dark magic, and bloodthirsty intrigue, perfect for fans of From Blood and Ash and A Court of Thorns and Roses.
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
“I would beg,” he murmured. “For you, I would. You have fucking destroyed me, Oraya. Do you know that?”
Hi and welcome to this review, aka rave. You know those books that have you so entranced with the world and the characters that you just can’t stop reading, because you NEED to know what will happen next? Those stories that occupy your mind even when you’re not reading at the moment? Those stories that have you sneaking in little bits of reading whenever you can, because the thought of waiting for hours until you can read uninterruptedly is just too long?
Yep, that was this book for me. And that’s why it’s a five-star read, because those kinds of stories are rare and the ones I will always treasure above all else.
But I assume you’ll probably need just a bit more from this review than just *feelings*, right? Ahem, let me try to list some of the reasons that made this story work so well for me.
Intriguing worldbuilding. Will I ever get enough of vampire stories? Well, probably not, but nevertheless I still thought this story was such a fun and unique take on vampire lore. In this world, vampire rule. Humans still exist, yes, but they are considered prey and are never safe, even in so-called ‘protected’ areas in the city. Within vampire society, there are several factions who all war with one another over power and there are a lot of politics involved. And then there are the gods and goddesses and magic and it all just works so well.
A brutal magical tournament where only one person can win. The main setting of this first book is the Kejari, a magical tournament that is held every 100 years. Only one person will survive and win this brutal contest, but that winner will be granted a wish by the goddess of death herself. Would this horrify me in real life? Definitely, seeing as I can’t even handle a simple, low-stakes real-life cooking or dancing competition without crying for those who don’t win. But am I intensely invested in fictional tournaments? Yes, I am, and the more brutal the better. (Please don’t judge…)
Oraya, the underdog you can’t help but root for. Of course, every contest needs somebody to root for. And who better than our main character, Oraya. Oraya is the adopted human daughter of the Vampire King and as such has lived her entire life between predators. She has trained her entire life to survive, but she is tired of living in fear and wants to become something more than prey. So she enters the Kejari. One human versus a whole lot of powerful vampire warriors? Of course you’re gonna root for this underdog. But Oraya is also a likeable, intriguing character, who has been taught to see her humanity as a weakness but still feels so much, even if she guards her heart and has built herself an armor that’s practically unpenetrable. She’s badass, but also someone you’d want on your side.
Raihn, the rival vampire with so many layers and the most delicious slow-burn romance. Ahh Raihn… he could have been just another typical love interest, another Rhysand or Casteel, but he’s not. Though he shares many similarities with those beloved characters – a mysterious rival, dark and powerful with a painful past – he’s also very much his own person and I grew to love him more and more as we got to know him, just like Oraya. To survive as long as possible in the tournament, Oraya needs an ally. When she reluctantly agrees to ally with Raihn, she thinks she’ll be able to kill him easily when the time comes. But as the two rivals work together, they get to know each other and grow a bond that only deepens the longer they’re allies. The slow burn is amazing and so deliciously well done! I was on the edge of my seat, not only for the trials in the tournament, but also for every interaction between Oraya and Raihn. The chemistry was just EXQUISITE!
The relationship between Oraya and her father, Vincent. Another highlight of this brutal story is the amazingly complicated yet beautiful relationship between Oraya and her adoptive father, Vincent. Vincent is the Vampire King, the most powerful vampire in the land. He got his throne by murdering A LOT of people, he would be considered a villain by most, and yet the love he has for Oraya is also so beautiful. In a world where vampires tend to kill their offspring before they can challenge their power, Vincent protects Oraya and teaches her to survive. Their bond was complicated at best, but I loved reading about it!
The epic ending. The last 10-15% or so are absolutely BRUTAL. It’s an epic ending and while I wouldn’t say it’s completely unexpected (if you read a lot of similar stories, you may be able to guess what’s gonna happen), it still hits hard. Luckily book 2 is out now, because trust me, you won’t be able to wait after that ending.
Overall, I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves romantic fantasy, brutal magical tournaments, a world of vampires and one fierce human girl, slow-burn romance with amazing chemistry, complicated relationships and edge-of-your seat action!
“I’ve lived through some injustices in the last couple of centuries. Seen some fucking travesties. But one of the biggest, Oraya, is that anyone taught you that you should become anything other than exactly what you are.”
“This, I knew, was Vincent telling me that he loved me. No one had ever said those words to me—at least, not that I could ever remember. But he communicated it a thousand ways over the years, most of them coated in death. I love you. Here’s how you stay alive. Here’s how you make sure that no one can hurt you. For vampires, that was the ultimate gift.”
“And then I realized. I realized that fear, when embraced, hardens and sharpens. That it becomes rage. That it becomes power. I would not die here.”
“Don’t be so quick to throw away your humanity, Oraya,” he said. “You might find you miss it once it’s gone.”
“I loved it—really, truly loved it—when they underestimated me.”
“Do you want to change this world, little serpent? Then climb your cage until you are so high no one can catch you. Break its bars and make them your weapons. Nothing is sharper. I know because I did it.”
Mini review for the sequel – The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King
I have in the meantime also read the sequel and finale for this duet and while at first I wanted to do a combi review, I felt it would be hard to review the second book without any major spoilers for the first book (even the blurb is spoilery already). So I decided not to do a full review, but I still wanted to do a super quick, super short, very vague and spoiler-free mini review. So here it is 🙂
I was worried I would not love the second book as much as the first, but I needn’t have worried. All the major elements that enticed me in the first one are still there in the second one, except for the tournament. But it’s still so highly addictive. I thought it was a fitting finale that made me feel all the things. I’m sad to see this story end, but I’m already looking forward to the other books that will be set in this world and focus on different characters.