Another dark chapter in the Nocturnal series awaits. But is it bigger, brutal and better than the first instalment? You’ll have to read on to find out.
Villimey Mist first came to my attention this year with her devastatingly brilliant take on the vampire trope with Nocturnal Blood – a book that I bloody loved and you can read the full review here . I was lucky enough to be sent both books (Nocturnal Blood and Farm) by the author to read for review, as a huge supporter of indie authors I jumped at the chance to see what someone could do with this overused trope of the vampiric and well I was blown away by the first outing, so I greedily dived into the second book as soon as I could like a vampire observing a jugular vein in anticipation for the blood to flow and hungry for my next meal.
Nocturnal Farm starts with our wonderfully curated protagonist Leia and we see how life has been treating her since the first book. How she’s adapted to her knowledge that vampires are real and how she is processing what happened at the end of the first book (rest assured there are no spoilers in this review!) – how she is moving on the best way she knows how. It’s not easy and those that have read the first book will know what these issues she is working through are.
Villimey Mist does a great job at recapping some of the finer points of the first book without bogging down the reader in a backstory, there are no info dumbs on the last book and this helps move the story forwards quickly and you quickly delve back into the wonderfully easy on the eye prose that was in the first book and something of a signature of Mist’s writing – as I said in my first review the writing for me is the upper echelons of young adult and the writing style Mist deploys works brilliantly without overcomplicating things (think Maze Runner and The Hunger Games) – her prose is just calm and effective, pulling the reader along in a dream state, it’s comfortable, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
So where does the story take us in this offering? Well Leia’s younger brother Nathan has gone on a school trip to Amsterdam with his school friends and teachers, Leia’s mother has reluctantly let him go, she’s still concerned about her children after the acts of the first book – but when Leia and her father convince her to allow him the chance to go, he heads off on an adventure into the unknown.
Needless to say something happens and Nathan goes missing, they don’t get their usual check in phone calls and they start to worry. It doesn’t help that the news is reporting that people are going missing in England, scientists seem to be vanishing, then the ripples of missing people starts to encroach further into Europe and Leia is worried that something sinister is happening (she knows what lurks in the darkness all too well) – so with the help of some returning characters from the first book (you are going to have to read it to find out – I’m not going to tell you!) Leia heads off to Amsterdam to track down her brother and bring him home.
So what did I like about the second outing of Leia and the Nocturnal Series?
I really enjoyed the development of the vampiric, I enjoyed learning more about the factions that are out in the world and how they intertwine with one another, and I really enjoyed the seediness of the vampire faction in Amsterdam – how they appeared to be more geared towards farming the populace, how the red light district and clubs seemed to bring in a new cattle and then the waiting vampires would just herd them into the machine that had been set up to keep supply and demand in place.
Amsterdam as a whole was beautifully put across by Mist and you could sense the feeling of the place in her deliciously writing and intricate details – it almost became a character in its own right. I’ve been to Amsterdam before and Mist perfectly renders this place, from the architecture to the feel of the nightlife to the depravity of the red light district right down to the cobbled stones and the rivers that carve this place up like veins in a giant beast. You feel as though you are right there with Leia and that is something very special indeed.
The gore. Oh the gore. Mist has the uncanny ability to write gore so well, I enjoyed when this took centre stage towards the conclusion of the story as it literally drips from every single page – it’s not gore for gore sake but it’s wonderfully executed, blood flows on the floor, the walls and drips from the ceiling. It’s a vampire book after all, so without the blood it would I guess, just be a nasty trip to the dentist.
I also really enjoyed the illustrations that are littered throughout the book, they add a very cool element to the story and help the reader visualize some of what is going on or new characters that have been introduced.
So what I didn’t like?
It’s not so much I hated it, I just felt that there was a awful lot of exposition, pages of it in fact – don’t get me wrong it’s always written well, but the adrenaline ride of the first book seems to be lost in this offering due to how much time is spent on setting the scene (and location) and introducing characters. Whole chapters go by without much happening or adding anything substantial to the plot or the plight of our characters, it only served to showcase the area or the place they are in. I understand that Mist has taken our characters from the luxury of America where we didn’t need as much exposition to know exactly where Leia was because we can relate to it easily – it just felt that Mist was trying to paint us Amsterdam in HD – and for me it bogged down the pace and the urgency and muddied the crisp storytelling that was found in the first book.
I also understand from reading the first book that Leia has issues with cleanliness (hygiene phobia), has some tics and is plagued by anxiety it was a character trait that in the first book worked well once you got used to it; but I felt that these became really repetitive in this offering. In Nocturnal Farm I lost count of the times that Leia ball her hands into fists or her back would have sweat dripping down it. It just came across rather repetitive in this offering and in the end I’d be like wow this woman sweats a lot from her back. But having said that I did enjoy the feistiness of Leia in this book, she’s grown and developed as a character and this is put across really well by Mist and I look forward to seeing how this changes again in the third installment with how Mist leaves our main protagonist.
I was also expecting a bit more of the Farm to appear in the book, seeing as that is what the books title would suggest but it appeared to be only crammed in towards the finale of the book as the story picks up its pace for the final act. It’s not a huge issue, the farm is alluded to throughout, but I was hoping for just a little bit more time to be spent there, more exposition on the place (yes I wanted more exposition here), details, horrors – there are some chilling parts of the farm which did make me feel uncomfortable – but in a sick way I wanted more!
Nocturnal Farm was an enjoyable sequel but didn’t live up to the brilliant Nocturnal Blood in the creepiness scale. I did enjoyed seeing where Mist took us with this offering and her character development of not only our protagonist but the secondary characters too. Also there were stunning additions to her unique vision of the vampiric and the lore that surrounds it. I felt that Nocturnal Farm was more of a segue into the next dark chapter, which Mist tells me is going to be even more brutal than those that have come before…
Nocturnal Farm is available here.
Villimey has always been fascinated by vampires and horror, ever since she watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula when she was a little, curious girl. She loves to read and create stories that pop into her head unannounced.
She lives in Iceland with her husband and two cats, and is often busy drawing or watching the latest shows on Netflix.
Nocturnal Blood is her debut novel.
Twitter – @VillimeyS
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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