There’s a reason TikTok is drooling. Serpent (I’m going to call it serpent, it has an incredibly annoying name but I promise it’s a great book) has all the tropes you love in romantasy; it gives spice, vampires, enemies to lovers to enemies, one bed, resentful training montage, who did this to you, and more. And even though it doesn’t give you anything—and I mean anything—new, I’m still thinking about it a month later, because it was such a fun read.
This review is spoiler-free.
The adopted human daughter of the Nightborn vampire king, Oraya carved her place in a world designed to kill her. Her only chance to become something more than prey is entering the Kejari: a legendary tournament held by the goddess of death herself.
But winning won’t be easy amongst the most vicious warriors from all three vampire houses. To survive, Oraya is forced to make an alliance with a mysterious rival.
Everything about Raihn is dangerous. He is a ruthless vampire, an efficient killer, an enemy to her father’s crown… and her greatest competition. Yet, what terrifies Oraya most of all is that she finds herself oddly drawn to him.
But there’s no room for compassion in the Kejari. War for the House of Night brews, shattering everything that Oraya thought she knew about her home. And Raihn may understand her more than anyone – but their blossoming attraction could be her downfall, in a kingdom where nothing is more deadly than love.
The Serpent and the Wings of Night is the first book in a new series of heart-wrenching romance, dark magic, and bloodthirsty intrigue, perfect for fans of From Blood and Ash and A Court of Thorns and Roses.
THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
If I had a nickel for every time I sighed and wished for an ACOTAR-ey fantasy romance that was well-paced and well-written, I’d—well, listen, I wouldn’t be a millionaire, but I’d have a solid bag. I’m surprised it took me this long to find a fantasy romance that wrote all my favorite tropes with competence.
The book boyfriend is a delightful amalgamation of all your favorite book boyfriends: he’s got the wings, but also he’s a vampire and she’s a human but he has achingly self-destructive restraint around her.
The setup and world is an unsurprising but inoffensive fantasy world populated by several different varieties of flying vampire and also some humans that just sort of hang out in the background. Honestly, the romance and the competition were so central that the worldbuilding itself can fade into the backdrop with dignity.
The setup has been pitched as the Hunger Games, but I’d argue it’s less specific than that. I really love a competition as a structure because it puts the story into a kind of bubble where the goal is very clear and the characters are forced together to do various tasks. It’s such a good structure for this kind of romantic fantasy, and this competition os no exception. It’s deadly, creative, and strategically engineered to produce all the tropes we know and love. It also keeps the plot moving, which is one of my biggest gripes with Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer Armentrout. Clarissa Broadbent heard all my whining, apparently.
All at once, I understood what this was. What we were doing.
He was offering himself to me. He was presenting me a perfect opening. He knew it. I knew it. We both knew the other knew it.
I could kill him right now.
Allllllll the tropes
C.S. Pacat is one of my favourite authors, and one of her biggest causes is the importance of tension. Clarissa Broadbent is obsessive about this from the first time our main characters meet. Opponents in a competition for an incredibly coveted prize? Check. Forced to be allies? Check. Not only are these characters constantly in tension, but they also have time to genuinely and believably fall for each other. Did I mention it’s enemies to lovers to enemies? Or should I say, more accurately, enemies to allies to lovers to enemies? And that’s not even getting into the goodness that’s coming in the next novel.
It’s widely accepted that when the main characters in a fantasy romance sleep together, the relationship jumps the shark, so to speak; it becomes less interesting, because they’ve gotten together now. I won’t reveal how, but Broadbent circumvents this with exciting expertise (I threw my book. Or actually, I think I was reading on my phone at the time. I threw my phone.) Oh, and there’s also plenty of spice.
I’ve spoken a lot about the main romantic pair a lot because there isn’t much else to say about the concept for this novel. I’d like to emphasise again that I don’t care if it’s unoriginal.
But it’s really unoriginal.
I mean there’s nothing new at all. It’s like a Frankenstein book so expertly sewn together that it teases out all the feelings you love about this genre.
I’m definitely going to try some more Clarissa Broadbent, but there are reasons I think Sarah J. Maas deserves a lot of the insane amount of hype she’s been getting recently. Check out my big ol’ post on Sarah J. Maas for more.
Have you been recommended Serpent on BookTok? …and if you have, what else have you been recommended? Asking for myself, because this one was a great little find.
He was on his knees, staring up at me. And that—the way he looked at me—was the first thing that felt real.
Real, and raw, and… and confusing.
Because he looked at me in sheer awe—like I was the most incredible thing he had ever seen. Like I was a fucking goddess.