Jumping back into a unique fantasy world you’re already familiar with is an inviting experience. As a reader, you’re comfortable with the world and its rules, but as you dive in, it still provides a lovely escape from the mundanity of reality. It can also surprise the reader by putting a new spin on the world as the story develops it further. The second book in Rita A. Rubin’s Chronicles of the Guardians series, Lady Night, offers both the comfort of a familiar world to those who enjoyed Amulet of Wishes, but also puts a new spin on Aloseria, developing the world further. As with that previous entry, Lady Night features many fantasy tropes readers have come to expect and anticipate from the genre—including vampires, lycanthropes and gargoyles—however, Rubin has once again presented these in an enjoyable and unique way.
Lady Night expands upon the story that began in Amulet of Wishes, and predominantly follows two threads. The first features the series protagonist, Derek Draco, returning to his hometown to search for a murderer. The second features the prince Jared as he follows a prison break with ties to a conspiracy with the potential to end the world. Through these threads, readers are introduced to the mystery of the titular Lady Night.
As Lady Night’s story unfolds, the author unveils its plot gradually, making for a story that feels slower than its predecessor. This pace doesn’t work for me as well as Amulet of Wishes, and this results in the story lacking urgency. While the story elements and events are certainly serious enough to keep the reader’s interest, the momentum doesn’t feel as snappy as I’d like.
At 370 pages in paperback (or an estimated 302 pages when loaded onto your eReader of choice), Lady Night is noticeably longer than the series first entry. If the book was the same length as, or slightly shorter than, Amulet of Wishes, the pacing may have worked better for me. Like the previous book, however, despite the length, it is a brisk read. With a target audience of young adult readers, this is a book that won’t provide too much of a challenge to the demographic. While the prose is light enough for the reader to follow easily, like Amulet of Wishes before it, it doesn’t always flow as well as it could. Likewise, the dialogue often doesn’t feel natural, with the characters sounding wooden at points, and not particularly distinguishable from one another.
As I mentioned in my review of Amulet of Wishes, the dialogue is only one aspect of the characterisation. And much like that book, the characterisation in Lady Night is expertly handled; a true highlight of both books. The book presents a largely queer cast of characters, where their queerness is simply part of who they are, rather than a defining trait the book focuses on. All the characters are fleshed out and fully formed, however, the highlight is certainly Derek. The novel’s plot brings up some unpleasant memories from his past, and the author uses these to explore the character. And as important a role as the past plays in his character arc, he still grows throughout the story. This growth is not linear, and the character experiences setbacks that feel entirely human.
The themes throughout Lady Night touch upon some dark places, including mental health through anxiety and panic attacks, implied childhood sexual abuse, and parental death, as I mentioned above. The story also includes violent moments and sexual references. Rubin touches upon the themes delicately throughout the novel, and the elements serve the story without being glorified. While readers who are particularly sensitive to those subjects may need to take this warning on board, they are all presented in a way that is suitable for a younger audience, and sensitive to the reader’s triggers.
Like Amulet of Wishes, if you have a distaste for prologues and epilogues, be warned: Lady Night features both. I’m in favour of these if they serve the story, which both do in this instance. They act as bookends to the tale, while placing it as part of the author’s wider Chronicles of the Guardians universe. Lady Night is the second volume in this series of novels, but the book works as a standalone read. If you’re reading this first, it tells the reader everything they need to know, and feels complete. For everyone else, it works as a continuation of the tale.
In some aspects, Lady Night is not as successful as Amulet of Wishes, with its story feeling slower and lacking a sense of urgency. However, the characters are an absolute standout element, the themes are strong, and the author continues to build a great world in Aloseria. Despite the issues I have, this novel still offers much to enjoy, and if you enjoyed the first volume, you’ll appreciate how Lady Night builds upon it, and will look forward to where the series moves next.
The ground caught up to Darus in no time. It felt as if in one breath, he was falling through the air and in the next, he was hitting the floor with a jarring thud. He was distinctly aware of Aurelia landing next to him, but somehow with much more grace, like a cat landing on its feet. Cora flew down shortly after to resume her perch on Aurelia’s shoulder.Lady Night: Chronicles of the Guardians, Book 1, Chapter 15
Lady Night: Chronicles of the Guardians, Book 2 was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Lady Night will be available in physical and eBook forms from book retailers (including—but not limited to—Amazon) from 1 November, 2022.
Note: I do not post scores for reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:
- Amazon – To be added upon the book’s released
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Interested in purchasing Lady Night?
Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.Lady Night (Chronicles of the Guardians Book 2)