Queen of Myth and Monsters
by Scarlett St. Clair
Published by Bloom books
Book 2 in the Adrian X Isolde series
Isolde, newly coronated queen, has finally found a king worthy of her in the vampire Adrian.
But their love for each other has cost Isolde her father and her homeland. With two opposing goddesses playing mortals and vampires like chess pieces against one another, Isolde is uncertain who her allies are in the vampire stronghold of Revekka.
Now, as politics in the Red Palace grow more underhanded and a deadly blood mist threatens all of Cordova, Isolde must trust in the bond she's formed with Adrian, even as she learns troubling information about his complicated past.
I was so looking forward to this book. I loved the first one, so I had high hopes. Sadly, it didn't live up to what I was expecting. Queen of Myth and Monsters felt very ... flat.
Let me begin with what I enjoyed. I enjoyed the romance ... for the most part. The sex was great. I felt like it was being used as a crutch sometimes, and maybe overly excessive, but Scarlett St. Clair writes good sex scenes, so I didn't mind. But I think I will always enjoy Isolde's self-assurance. She knows who she is, and who she was meant to be. She doesn't let those around her use her, or walk over her. Often in books, we get a woman in a position of power, but she is unsure of herself, and has to grow into that role. Isolde is none of that, and its refreshing. She is easily angered though, which is frustrating. Adrian didn't deserve half of the shit she dumped on him in this book.
Isolde's strength of character, and the steamy moments between her and Adrian though, could not cover up the weaknesses in this book. It felt a little too ... forced? Too much filler? I don't know. It just didn't feel as invested in the characters as I did in the first book. I wanted Isolde to concentrate on her magic, but it didn't feel as important as her want to take over her mothers homeland and liberate the people there. It's important, but it is like she fails to see that connecting with her past life could help her, instead of putting it all on Adrian and their army's shoulders. And the whole thing with Isolde being bitten and can now turn into a beast, that can potentially turn into anything? Handy, but too easy of a plot device, and I don't feel like it was needed when we already have gods, vampires, and magic. Maybe Isolde's power will rival the goddess that holds Adrian prisoner? Being a weird hybrid of vampire, with, and beast?
While Queen of Myth and Monsters wasn't my favorite, I will still finish out the series. I'm interested enough in where the story is going. In this book, though, I was frankly more interested in Daroc and Sorin's relationship. And Adrian and Isolde's past relationship. It's too bad, but more often then not, series' like this tend to suffer from "second book syndrome" and are never as good as the first. Hopefully the next book will live up to my expectations.
He was an anchor I grasped in the darkness of my grief, the only thing that brought feeling, and I craved this—his heat, our madness, the distraction. Isolde: “I need you inside me,”
I said, my hands on his shoulders, ready to give him the leverage he needed to cure my desperation.
Isolde: “Give me your come and you can have my blood.”
He chuckled breathlessly.
Adrian: “Oh, Sparrow. I will fill you to bursting.” Adrian: “Isolde,”
he repeated quietly, and when I finally met his gaze, his stare was gentle.
Adrian: “You are my light.”
I took his face between my hands.
Isolde: “You are my darkness,”
I said and kissed him. To the disdain of most in attendance, my father brought me along after I turned sixteen, and it was there I learned the true fears of men—anything more powerful than them. Gesalac: “You murdered my son.”
Adrian: “He is not the first son I have murdered, nor, I imagine, the last, but let us not pretend that your vengeance is fueled by fatherly devotion. You want my throne, my empire.”
Gesalac: “What empire? What kingdoms have you conquered since you began fucking that woman?”
I managed a smile despite how hard I clenched my teeth.
Adrian: “My queen and I will conquer this world, and when we have our empire, we will fuck on a bed of your bones.” As my blade met Gesalac’s midswing, the sound was like lightning crackling across the sky, a vibration that went to my bones. It felt like life, like breathing once again.
Adrian: “I was your beginning. And I will be your end!” Ana: “Men want power,”
Ana said. It was the first time she had spoken, and everyone at the table turned to look at her.
Ana: “Women want to exist without fear.” Adrian: “How is it that you manage to continuously express both concern and disdain for my wife, Daroc?”
Daroc: “My concern is for your queen. My disdain is for you.” Adrian: “I have changed my mind so often, I no longer know how it will happen, but if I were to take you now, it would be within the grove where I buried you, and I would draw out your pleasure until you were delirious with need, until your body was hot and your blood rushing, until you forgot all the horror it took to get us here, and only then would I enter you.”
He paused and his hand moved to my upper thigh as he whispered,
Adrian: “Are you wet for me now?”
Isolde: “I would challenge you to find out. But I would like to hear the rest.” Adrian: “You named our children,”
he said, and the silence that followed his statement shattered my heart. They were the children we would never have.
Isolde: “What were their names?”
I whispered. I knew he remembered, knew he clung to the memory of them though they never existed.
Adrian: “Cora, for a girl,”
he said, and I swallowed something sharp and jagged in my throat, only to have it land uneasily in my stomach. Cora. I thought the name was so buried, I could hardly recall where I had heard it, but once the seed was planted, a woman formed around the name. She had a proud face and stood stoic and still. Her eyes were dark, both humble and fierce. She was beautiful, and an ache settled deep inside me at the fact that I did not know what had happened to her in the aftermath of my death. This was Yesenia’s mother. My mother.
I repeated, and my brows lowered as I searched for the other name. Finally, I met Adrian’s gaze.
Isolde: “Alek. For a boy. After you.”
A ghost of a smile touched his lips but could not dim the pain in his eyes, and after a moment, he spoke.
Adrian: “I am sorry I could not give you what you wanted,”
I whispered. His words broke me in a way I hadn’t been before. It had not been he who had taken away the future I had once dreamed of. It had been men. It had been Dragos. I took his face into my hands, gaze falling to his lips as I spoke.
Isolde: “You are what I want.” Sorin: “What brings you out of your bed at this hour?”
Isolde: “I needed a break from Adrian,”
I said, rolling my eyes. Sorin chuckled, eyes glittering.
Sorin: “Exhausting, is he?”
Isolde: “If you are referring to the words coming out of his mouth, then yes,” I said. Isolde: “We have court,”
I said, trying to turn toward him, but he held me in place.
I said, growing frustrated, and he chuckled against my skin.
Adrian: “Yes, my queen?”
Isolde: “Do not pretend you do not know what you are doing.”
Adrian: “I’d rather you explain,”
Isolde: “That you are making me furious?”
He laughed again.
Adrian: “I like your fury,”
he said, hand lifting to my neck.
Adrian: “Let me taste it.” Isolde: “You cannot have me in the throne room before court, Adrian,”
I said. He raised a brow and I knew what he was going to say.
Isolde: “That is not a challenge,”
I said, stepping away from him and heading for my throne.
Daroc: “We are ready, General.”
Daroc nodded and closed the adjoining door. As I turned to sit, I found Adrian still standing at the base of the dais staring at me.
Adrian: “Nothing, my sweet. I am only imagining what it will be like when I fuck you on this throne before my court.” Isolde: “Will you watch me burn again?”
Adrian: “You aren’t even a witch!”
he yelled, his body shaking.
Adrian: “You have no power beyond driving me to the fucking edge of insanity.”
I tried to hit him again, but he held me too tight, so I did the only thing I could to escape him—stab him in the heart. I shoved my hands against his chest and released my blade. The second it pierced his skin, he let me go, and I watched his blood darken the fabric of his tunic.
Isolde: “Fuck you,”
I said. This time when I left, he did not follow. Ana: “You do not have to have lived a hundred years or even twenty. If your soul is tired, you will be tired.” Isolde: “Words do not heal trauma,”
Adrian:. “Then tell me how I heal this.”
Isolde: “You don’t. You love me through the fear, even when my doubt hurts, and I will do the same for you.” Adrian: “I shall very much enjoy teaching you how to obey me later,”
he said, his tongue teasing the shell of my ear.
Isolde: “You may try all you like,” Isolde: “Perhaps you should reflect on why you are always apologizing to me. And change.” Without him near, I felt colder, and I wrapped my arms around me tighter.
I whispered his name because I could not feel him. I gasped when a hand touched my waist.
Adrian: “Do you fear the dark?”
he asked. I turned my head, and the stubble on his jaw scratched my cheek.
I said because it was true.
Isolde: “But I prefer the light. Nothing can hide in the light.”
Adrian: “So you fear what lingers in the dark?”
Isolde: “I suppose,”
Adrian: “Do you fear me?”
I said, too quickly.
Isolde: “Should I?”
Adrian: “Yes. But not for the reasons you think.”
Isolde: “And what do I think?”
A light flared and I turned fully to face him. We were inches apart, and he brushed his fingers along my cheek, leaving a trail of heat that raced down my throat and into my stomach. I took a deep, shuddering breath. He smiled wryly.
Adrian: “You fear how I make you feel.”
He stepped closer, until there was no space between us and I had to tilt my head back to keep his gaze. I did not respond to his statement but instead asked,
Isolde: “What do you prefer? The dark or the light?”
Adrian: “Neither. Evil basks in it all.” Adrian: “There is no understanding it, because it is hate, and hate can exist with no reason.” Isolde: “I love this,”
I said, reveling in the weight of his body upon me, the feel of him inside me.
Isolde: “I love you.”
I could not see his expression—we were too close—but all that mattered were his words.
Adrian: “All the stars in the sky, Sparrow.” Isolde: “So many of us…murdered.”
I was not even talking about witches anymore, but women. I lifted the rolled parchment to the flame. I did not wish for this information to exist about me any longer.
Isolde: “Strange that men claim we are weak when they are so afraid.” Safira: “Why would you want me as your lady? I am your enemy.”
Isolde: “A woman who wants to sleep with my husband does not make her an enemy, Safira. It makes her annoying.” Killian: “He changed you?”
I could sense his confusion and even his hurt. He felt betrayed.
Killian: “You don’t…look different.”
Isolde: “I am tired of being weak, Killian.”
Killian: “You are not weak. Just because you are not invincible does not mean you are weak.” Imelda’s expression was cold.
Imelda: “You willfully ignore Asha’s plan for you. Perhaps your mother had to die so that you could be raised by your father, which will ensure you are a successful queen.”
Isolde: “What are you saying, Imelda?”
I had stabbed a lot of men in my life, but never a woman—but I had wanted to stab her then.
Imelda: “I am merely suggesting that your mother might have nurtured you far more than your father. It is no secret she was a gentle creature, hardly a woman who could stand among kings.”
Isolde: “It is good to know your opinion on my mother,”
I said, and the priestess bowed her head, as if she were pleased.
Isolde: “Perhaps if I had been raised by my mother, I would be more inclined to forgive you for it, but I was raised by my father, and like him, I am only interested in punishing those who slight me.” Mom: “You are the daughter of witches, as all women are,”
she said, and she brushed a strand of hair from my face.
Mom: “Magic is in our blood and bone; it is in the earth at our feet; it is in the very air we breathe.”