“I shrug. “‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’-isn’t that written on the gates of Hell?’ ‘In the Inferno.’ He smiles, and his bright eyes meet mine. ‘Do you have any idea how much it turns me on when you quote Dante and Nietzsche within seconds of each other?'”
“How this happened, how we’ve crossed the chasm that seemed greater than the distance between Hell and Heaven, is a testament to either our humanity or our divinity here. We’re either completely weak and foolish or part of something bigger. This kiss is part of something bigger.”
“‘Remember: many adored you once. Love doesn’t die. Nothing dies. It just shape-shifts.'”
Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh-on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined.
Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves…or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben’s destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others-only to lose herself?
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and BenBella Books.
The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant is a stunning sequel, completely brilliant. When I first read The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sold but if there’s something Joanna Wiebe excels at it’s cliffhangers. I needed to know what happened to Anne and the fates of the rest of the students on Wormwood Island. The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant is a maze of twists and turns with a surprise around every corner. If you’re looking for a unique, puzzling read where you learn to expect the unexpected and trust no one, add this to your TBR. Stat.
- The story is meticulously plotted. There are layers upon layers of mysteries and secrets. The lies build and slither like snakes into new, intricate reveals. Secrets evolve as the story progresses and everything feels like an optic illusion that the majority of students are imprisoned in, where they fail to see the truth for all the pretty lies.
- Anne has grown a little. Her maturity level is still iffy but she’s wickedly smart and able to decipher clues faster than anyone else. Anne sees what others do not, she takes things apart and rebuilds them, picking out the bad pieces and analyzing their intentions. Anne is awkward and kind of spastic when it comes to love and sexuality. She’s constantly doubting herself and blurts of the obvious laced with sarcasm. Despite her flaws (there are many and as a reader, I truly appreciated the parts of Anne that were not clean or heroic) Anne has a pure heart. She’ll risk herself for what she believes it. That being said, sometimes she’s incredibly selfish and sees things in a one-sided way. She’s made of contradictions and second guessing. Her character traits fluctuate and as a teenage girl, it’s pretty believable.
- Dia is a sadistic hipster. As weird as it sounds, it works. A tortured artist, who sees the beauty in the beastly, who quotes poetry and knows art, has tattoos and is devastatingly sexy, he oozes charm and sex appeal while being surprisingly nonchalant. He brushes things off and yet, takes a shining to Anne that put everything into question. Dia is one of those characters that you’ll regard wearily, unsure of his intentions and the madness hidden beneath the surface.
- The violence was especially graphic and gory this time around. The torture scenes were brutal and bloody, filled with coercion and real threats.
- Characters had many sides. The person living the PT and the one who came before the dire circumstances are often two very different people. Characters can’t be viewed in black and white, they grey and multidimensional. Just when you think you have them pegged, a new element will leave you reeling. Harper was a pleasant surprise.
- The literary and art references were tantalizing and persuasive, do yourself a favor and look them up when mentioned, it adds a layer of color and deeper understanding to the story.
- Ben and Anne’s romance was soft and sweet at times and others it was downright embarrassingly awkward. I loved it. Romance is not something where you know all the answers, where every move is perfect or calculated, you can’t expect to get everything right. Ben and Anne have serious issues and it’s they’re not small. They give into their attraction and build their love but they have outside forces dragging them down and inhibiting the true exploration of their feelings. Their love is real and honest, and made of misinterpretations and assumptions that leave them pushing each other away more often than not.
- The Sin Sisters. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Their gorgeous, vicious, sinister. Delicious female villains.
- There’s a lewd, vulgar undertone to some scenes that is blunt and abrupt, the sort of in your face awareness that is both startling and shocking. While the story does deal with demons, many of these observations and comments are made by those who are not and it was a little off-putting.
- Characters flit in and out of the story, some stick while others fall away into oblivion until they’re suddenly important again. It was difficult to connect with many apart from Anne, Ben, Molly, Dia and to an extent, Pilot because of his lasting impression from book 1.
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this: