Pros: Wonderfully strong heroine, skilfully handled psychological suspense.
Cons: Suspense drops off towards the end of the book, before picking up again near the end.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
**SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers if you have not yet read Night Falls Darkly! **
After Mark, Lord Alexander, has sacrificed his position in the Shadow Guard to bring down a killer, he is desperately searching for the means to regain his status. A clue, hidden in an ancient papyrus, points to two scrolls that are currently in the possession of Wilhemina Limpett. The daughter of an adventurer, she is facing her own peril because Mark is not the only one who wants to learn the knowledge found in the scrolls. As Mark fights to keep the scrolls out of the hands of those who would use them for destruction, he finds himself more and more attracted to the lovely Mina. Will the two of them learn to trust each other? Or will the powers of darkness destroy everything they hold dear?
I was very excited to find Kim Lenox’s So Still The Night in my stack, because I so enjoyed “Night Falls Darkly”. Ms. Lenox has a rare talent for capturing emotions such as fear, insecurity, and vulnerability in such a way as to feel believable to the reader. Once I picked up “So Still the Night”, I fell immediately back into the world that I had fallen in love with in the first book. I was also happy to see many of the elements retained that made me love this series.
When we see Mark again at the beginning of the book, he is vastly different from the arrogant young man that we first met. He knows that the darkness inside himself will likely consume him soon, and he is determined not to let that happen. I really admire his inner strength, and his determination to triumph over the unexpected direction that his life had taken. I absolutely adored Mina as well, for similar reasons. Her father has sent her back to London to fake his death in order to try and protect her from the danger she is in because he is in possession of two ancient scrolls. Although she isn’t sure what is going on, or why, she does her best to carry on without dramatics or hysterics. Both of these two have a practical streak that I absolutely love; there were several places where I was afraid that there would be silly misunderstandings, but I was thrilled to see that these two acted like adults, discussing and confronting their problems as a couple and attempting to act in each others’ best interests.
I also love the way that Ms. Lenox skillfully builds layers of both internal and external conflict on top of each other, so that it feels as if the events of the book are part of one big, tangled mess. It seems to allow for more development on the part of the characters, while also forcing them to push themselves father than they had though possible to persevere. I was, however, slightly disappointed about two-thirds of the way through the book because it felt as if much of the external conflict was set to the side in order to allow more focus on the relationship between Mark and Mina. I can see why the book proceeded this way, because Mark and Mina hadn’t had much time together at that point, but because much of the outside tension was removed, I lost the edge-of-my seat feeling that had carried me though the book to that point. It also made it a little harder for me to feel as tense about the climax of the book as I wanted to.
As much as I enjoy mythology, and especially the mythology that Ms. Lenox has built into her world, I still have so many questions about how it works. How and why have things evolved to be as they are now? How did the Shadow Guards come to be? What is some of their history? And what role do the Immortals play that they leave conduits open between their world and ours? I was hoping that some of these questions would be answered in this second book, but they weren’t. There is another book in the series, which I should be getting to before too long, and I really do hope that I get to learn more.
I also adore the way that Ms. Lenox feels no need to sugar-coat the darker facets of London’s Society life. Mina’s London family displays many of the machinations and social-climbing mores that must have been common to the era, and I enjoyed a somewhat less idealized depiction of what Society life was like for the men and women who were socially ambitious. Mina simply takes it in stride, and her quiet refusal to react to blatant attempts to make her jealous made me so happy. I love sensible heroines, and Mina is a delight.
“So Still the Night” is another well-crafted book from Ms. Lenox. Her characters are fascinating to watch, and because the conflicts mesh internal and external elements the reader will be dying to know how the situation resolves. Mark and Mina both act like adults, and so we are given room to explore some of their deeper and darker feelings, like fighting a sense of decaying self, or a fear of loneliness. We are also treated to a more unvarnished view of what social climbing may have looked like, and we get to enjoy watching two well-matched people triumph over adversity to achieve their happy ending. I can’t wait for the next book!