Pros: Intense, dark, and gripping! Surprisingly coherent if you haven’t read earlier books
Cons: Definitely some dark adult material in here—not for everyone
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Nika’s psychic bond with her missing younger sister is fading, meaning she’s running out of time to locate and rescue Tori. She’s the only one who believes her sister is still alive, and since she’s still recovering from madness (and a psychic connection to the vicious Synestryn), proving she’s right and finding Tori is no simple matter.
Madoc swore he’d never allow himself near Nika again. His soul is dying, held up by a sliver of fading magic, and the darkness inside consumes him. He wants Nika entirely too much, and doesn’t want to expose her to the things he’s capable of when he loses control. Especially since it’s clear that even though he’s the only one who can touch her without harming her, he isn’t destined to be bound to her. When Nika bulls her way into his life and insists he help her find Tori, however, her particular brand of hard-headedness becomes more and more difficult to resist.
Shannon K. Butcher’s Living Nightmare is the fourth book in her “The Sentinel Wars” series, and the first one I’ve read. Despite that I had a surprisingly easy time following along. While I don’t have the background behind the various races and social structures involved, the story itself is coherent enough that I found I didn’t need any more than what I was given. Since there exists a fairly involved storyline here, that’s impressive.
I didn’t feel like I had already met Nika and Madoc in another twenty books already—Nika has a certain alien quality to her that I love, and Madoc’s roughness and darkness aren’t simply an act or brash arrogance. He truly is close to losing his soul, and some of the things he finds himself wanting are dark indeed. Nika and Madoc are far from whole and healthy, and they need each other in order to recover themselves. Of course even if they can come together, things won’t magically become easy—they have a long and troubled history together, and Tori’s running out of time for rescue.
If you don’t want to deal with very dark adult material in your books, skip Living Nightmare. Tori has been in the hands of monsters for years, and they haven’t exactly treated her well. Neither does Butcher flinch away from the idea that someone who’s losing his soul should have serious trouble resisting his darker desires.
I felt totally swept up in the book’s events—I could barely stop reading and could hardly wait to find out what would happen next at every twist and turn. I completely invested in Nika and her crusades to find Tori and help Madoc.