Empire of the Damned was just as enthralling and action packed as Empire of the Vampire.

Empire of the Damned was so hard to put down. Full of anxiety-inducing-non-stop danger and the knowledge that not one character is ever safe. If there’s one thing the first book taught me it’s that anyone could be killed at any moment and this was a feeling that hung over the entirety of the sequel.

It picks back up right where the first left off, both in Gabe’s present telling the story of his life, a short time after where the break in his story had occurred at the end of Empire of the Vampire, and within his retelling of his life itself, where he is venturing forth with Dior, trying to stay alive before everything else.

This sequel contained something that the first did not which was both intriguing and informative to me. The reader gets the opportunity to hear part of the story of the Grail from a different perspective for a bit, which to me was an interesting shift because it for the first time officially shows how potentially unreliable the narrator is. Whether this be Gabriel, the second narrator, or both is up for the reader to decipher. I’m a bit of a sucker for this because I feel it forces the reader to really think about what they’re reading and not take everything at face value, and considering who Gabriel is and what you know of him by this point, it seems so fitting because, in my opinion at least, why wouldn’t he be an unreliable narrator in this scenario. Not to mention the insight it gives into this other character and their perspective of that time.

I don’t want to go too deeply into detail about certain plot points to avoid spoilers, but I really loved the further insight into duskwalkers this book presented. Getting the chance to learn more about them and see more of their people was such a highlight as they are one of the most intriguing groups in my opinion and I grew very much fond of a certain character throughout the course of Empire of the Damned when they were present, a fondness I wasn’t expecting and low key dreaded because it just made me afraid for their wellbeing. Because that’s what getting attached to characters in this series is all about. Constant dread that they’ll be the next to die. There was also a certain point in the story that took place in a spooky forest that I loved because it had such unexpected horror vibes and had me so hooked for those chapters.

Honestly the entirety of this book had me gripped in its pages. I’m not sure if I could choose a favourite between Empire of the Vampire and Empire of the Damned because I feel like they are both incredible in their own ways and I love the both of them so much in the end. Once again, this sequel had me completely shook and always unable to turn away from the events taking place on the page. The emotional rollercoaster is absolutely insane. As I’ve said, not one character ever feels safe, which makes for some next level stress over the characters you can’t help but grow attached to because there is the constant fear of them dying or something somehow worse happening to them. I felt this deep in my soul throughout the entirety of this book. Particularly because I’ve already had a chance to grow attached to character with the first book, and having to go through another book worrying about them makes that attachment so much more real because there is more time spent with them. Reading had me happy, sad, in awe, holding my breath, wanting to jump up and battle with these characters, just all over the place because it is so emotionally rife and impossible not to be effected by the characters.

Flipping the last page of this book was in large parts agony, and just incredible loss. It was honestly such a wild ride and by the end I was a little broken over it being finished. I also feel the ending was so much worse of a cliffhanger than Empire of the Vampire in the sense that I feel this inability to wait for the next volume to know what happens next. I am completely lost having finished Empire of the Damned and I can say with the utmost certainty I have now entered into a severe book hangover. I don’t even know how to go on to something else after being so immersed in the world Jay Kristoff has so masterfully created in this series. I can’t even handle the idea of having to wait for the next book at this point. Must. Have. Now. Suffice it to say I highly recommend this sequel, and most definitely the series in general. Don’t sleep on this series if you haven’t started it yet!


By Danielle Plant

An avid reader and runner. I like to spend my spare time with my dogs Reese and Orion.

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