Venators: Legends Rise

Brown. May 2020. 575p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781612544427.
Gr 9 Up–In Eon, supernatural beings like vampires, werewolves, and succubi derive power from primal bloodlust. While Eon’s bloodthirsty venators left for Earth ages ago, three have been brought back, spiking Eon’s already volatile power struggle. With admirable intentions, Rune and Grey, who fear their venator bloodlust, have already caused chaos and tragedy. Now they, along with irascible vampire Verida and infuriating shifter Beltran, are on a mission the ruling Council must not suspect: rescuing Dracula’s gladiator Tate from the sadistic games. Elsewhere on Eon, Rune’s twin Ryker leans into his bloodlust, encouraged by the enigmatic, ruthless Zio. When combustible lines of power, deception, betrayal, and warfare cross at the gladiator games, the resulting explosion changes everything again—and sets the stage for yet more combustion. As the third entry in this dark fantasy follows over a dozen characters and offers minimal backstory, series newcomers will be awash in confusion. Series lovers, however, will eagerly follow the entangled plot to see what happens to their beloved characters. While the well-built world overflows with violence, gore, and lust, Walls balances that with description, significant character development, and heartfelt emotion. Readers will cry over Verida’s lost love, Grey’s childhood abuse, and be riveted by flutters of romance between Rune and Beltran.
VERDICT Lovers of this epic, bloodthirsty fantasy of vampires, werewolves, succubi, and gladiators will welcome the third in the series. It’s not a standalone; steer newbies to the earlier books first.

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