Vengeful (Villains, #2) – V.E. Schwab


Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️💫


A super-powered collision of extraordinary minds and vengeful intentions―#1 New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab returns with the thrilling follow-up to Vicious.

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.

But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought―and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other.

With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.


This review contains some spoilers.

What an epic sequel! Victoria Schwab once again delivered an incredibly creative and addictive story! Vengeful was a terrific follow-up to Vicious and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Vengeful was suspenseful, intense, and fun!

Like Vicious, Vengeful is told using flashbacks that vary in time range. This was one of my favorite parts of Vicious and I am so happy to say that it got even better in Vengeful. I love how the timeline is not told chronologically from start to finish. The story jumps back and forth in the timeline throughout the story. It is all leading to the present which is the last part of the book. It could be confusing, but I did not find it hard to follow at all.  I think it’s a super cool way to tell the story and to provide insight and history into the characters’ actions.

Vengeful follows Eli, Victor, Sydney, Mitch, Dominic, and Detective Stell, but also adds some new characters into the mix. Marcella Riggins, June, and Jonathan are all EOs. Marcella is crazy!! I started out the book rooting for her. I was like yes girl you go and kick that scum husband’s ass! But, wow, Marcella took it a bit far! She went absolutely crazy. She actually seemed unbeatable because she was so powerful. I will say that I did love several of Marcella’s quotes. She’s all about the girl power. . .

  • “But glass is only brittle until it breaks. Then it’s sharp.”
  • “How many men would she have to turn to dust before one took her seriously?”
  • “Men are always so impatient. Perhaps it comes from a lifetime of being given what you want, when you want it.” 

She is a badass, but she took it way too far. She became extremely violent and power-hungry. Her POV was super fun to read though!

June is another new character in Vengeful. WHO IS SHE!?! I have so many questions. Who is she? What is her real name? What was her near death experience? Why doesn’t she want to look like her true “self”? What happened to her to cause her to have a kill list? Why is she obsessed with Sydney? June is a huge mystery and Schwab ended Vengeful without any answers. I need the next book! Sydney and June become friends in Vengeful. Sydney is in an interesting place. She is struggling with her grief for her sister, Serena, but she is fiercely loyal to Victor and Mitch. Sydney’s presence was definitely lesser in this book, but one of my favorite parts of her story was seeing her experiment with her power. It was so interesting and super creepy! Schwab’s writing is so good that I was picturing a small blonde girl reviving dead birds in my head for days! Again, I want to know why Sydney is so important to June! I can’t wait to find out more.

In my review for Vicious I talked about how despite some of his actions, I loved rooting for Victor. He was the perfect anti-hero. However, in Vengeful, I had a much harder time rooting for him. Victor has become even more violent and ruthless. I understand his thought process, but his actions were excessive. I am very curious about what is next for Victor. At the end of Vengeful, Eli is dead (is he really?) and Victor has set off on his own. Victor’s plan and focus was Eli for the past 15 years. What’s next for Victor?

In Vengeful, we get to learn more about Eli and his past. It was implied in Vicious that Eli was abused during his childhood, but we did not get to hear about his history. Vengeful dives right in and shows Eli’s past and why he is the way he is. I truly feel for him because of his father’s abuse, but Eli is 100% a psychopath. In all of the chapters focused on Eli’s childhood, Eli constantly points out that he is shaping himself to present what is considered normal. He is constantly altering his persona and presenting an act to his peers. He doesn’t seem to have any real feelings or remorse. He is very superficial and charming. Maybe I’ve been listening to too much “My Favorite Murder” podcast episodes, but reading Eli’s history reminded me of hearing Karen and Georgia talk about serial killer’s childhoods and personalities. As we saw in Vicious, Eli obviously becomes a serial killer. He is totally a psychopath. I can totally imagine the episode of “My Favorite Murder” where Karen or Georgia tells the story of Eli. He fits the “mold” of a serial killer so well. It was fascinating to read! Also. . . is Eli REALLY permanently dead? I know he had the power suppressant in his system so he actually died, but I just don’t buy it!! I have a feeling that this is not the last time we see Eli. One quick side note about Eli. . .HOLY SHIT WITH THE DISSECTING SCENES! Absolutely terrifying!!

The ONLY reason I gave Vengeful four and a half stars instead of five is because it was a little slow to start for me. Also I want answers!! It was a great ending to the story, but it is killing me not knowing more about June, Eli, Victor! Victoria Schwab has done it again!

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2) – Laini Taylor

25446343Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?
Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.


This review will contain some minor spoilers.

I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it again and again. . . Laini Taylor is an exceptional storyteller. She writes the most beautiful words and creates stunning and imaginative worlds. Laini’s writing is literally magic. All of her books are so lyrical and full of unique characters and worlds. Muse of Nightmares was no exception. Strange the Dreamer is one of my all time favorite books and I was thrilled to be back in this world. I had no idea what to except from Muse of Nightmares, but I was blown away. Laini has outdone herself. Muse was better than I could have ever imagined.

Muse picks up immediately after Strange ended. Sarai has just died and Minya saved her soul using her power. Minya tries to use Sarai against Lazlo. She wants Lazlo to take her and her ghost army down to Weep to attack Eril-Fane and the humans. I had forgotten how dang creepy Minya is! Laini writes her creepiness so well! “The girl was so small in her unnatural body, still dressed in the fifteen-year tatters of her nursery clothes. Her face was round and soft, a child’s face, and her big dark eyes blazed with vicious triumph. With nothing but the burn of those eyes to contradict the rest of her–her tininess, her grubiness–she managed to radiate power, and worse than power: a malignant zealotry that was its own law and covenant.” I can see Minya perfectly in my mind and she terrifies me…especially whenever the other characters comment on her childish voice. Despite being such a good villain, I definitely feel for Minya. She has experienced such trauma in her life and been forced to be the adult for Sarai, Ruby, Sparrow, and Feral. Her childhood was ripped away and all that was left was hate. “Death had made her who she was: this unnatural child who never grew up, who never forgot, and would never forgive.” This does not excuse Minya’s behavior, but it shows that she is a very complex character. This is something Laini does so well…she is able to create complex villains who the audience can understand. Throughout Muse we learn more about Minya, her history, and why she is so hateful. I gained so much perspective and by the end of the book I was so happy with Minya’s story arc and ending.

One of the biggest plot points in Muse is Skathis’s history and discovering what happened to the other godspawn children from the citadel nursery. I had absolutely no ideas or theories. It was a slow build up to the reveal, but I liked watching the characters put the clues together (especially with the addition of Nova and her POV). I was shocked by the reveal! Both because I wasn’t expecting it and it shows how terrible Skathis was!! I won’t go into details to keep spoilers minimal, but I am still thinking about what happened to the other godspawn children.

The world of Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares expanded massively in this book. We learn that long ago the Seraphim discovered that there were thousands of parallel worlds in addition to their own (Meliz). The used their magic to cut through the barriers and create portals to and from each world. Zeru (the world in which Strange and Muse take place) is just one of thousands of worlds. This means that the world and universe that Laini has created is HUGE! This brings me to my absolute favorite part of Muse. . . the EPIC callback to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. When learning about the Seraphim and what happened to them, the narrator states that the Seraph world of Meliz was lost so they escaped into the neighboring world of ERETZ!!! It then states. . . “A bold young queen in that distant world was even now training a legion of angels and chimaera to battle the darkness and hopefully destroy it. But that’s another story.” I actually screamed when I read this! I just love Laini and her writing so much! I love how it’s all connected!!! The best part…this means that the stories in this universe are infinite. Laini can create as many worlds as she wants and it will all be connected. I hope that one day Lazlo, Sarai, and co. will meet Karou and Akiva! A girl can dream, right?!

A few quick points…

  • The dream sequences were pure beauty, imagination, and creativity. I love watching Lazlo and Sarai live in their fantasies and be truly happy and safe. I think the way they can change the dreamscape is one of the coolest and most inventive parts of the story. I want to go the Dreamer’s Weep!
  • Lazlo and Sarai’s love is so pure and beautiful. They care and love one another so deeply. Lazlo shows Sarai that she doesn’t have to be “The Muse of Nightmares,” but instead can be “The Goddess of Dreams.” Sarai shows Lazlo what it’s like to be loved and to have a family.
  • I loved Thyon Nero’s story arc! He was redeemed and began to change into a good person. I loved seeing him make friends and actually want to belong! I was so happy that he joined the expedition crew at the end.

The ending was perfect. PERFECT. Laini Taylor is a queen and she joins J.K. Rowling and Sarah J. Maas as my favorite authors.

I have a ridiculous number of favorite quotes marked, but I tried to narrow it down. . .

  • “There’s been so much pain. This is a chance for a new beginning. We aren’t our parents. We don’t have to be monsters. Don’t make us monsters.”
  • He was strange the dreamer, after all. He wasn’t your ordinary dreamer, prey to all the vagaries of the unconscious. He moved through his mind with the assuredness of an explorer and the grace of a poet.
  • “There must be things that are impossible. But I don’t believe we’ve gotten there yet. Look at us. We’ve barely begin. Sarai, we’re magic.”
  • “Just because the power is mine, it doesn’t follow that all choices are.”
  • But Sarai knew what she knew–what only she knew–and the greatest feat of strength she had ever witnessed was the one he performed every day: continuing to live for the sake of others, when it would be so much easier to stop.
  • “Can we leave the past behind us?” she asked. Could they? The question was everything. “That’s an excellent place for the past,” said Suheyla. “If you don’t leave it there, it clutters up and you just keep tripping over it.”
  • “You can’t save everyone, Sarai. You know that, don’t you?” “I know,” she said. “But we can try. And…maybe that’s how we save ourselves.”
  • “People,” she said. “People are our safe places. I have one: a person who’s a home and a world to me.”
  • Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.
  • Out of hundreds of worlds?” said Thyon. “It would be stranger if there weren’t dragons.”
  • Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s eye yourself.
  • Men have decided between them that this is what my body and labor are worth for life.
    • I included this quote because I found it so powerful and relevant to today’s society. I am tired of old men in our government telling women what we can and can’t do with our bodies. This is my PSA to GO VOTE!

Vicious (Villains, #1) – V. E. Schwab

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Victor and Eli started out as college roommates―brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find―aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge―but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.


Victoria Schwab is an ExtraOrdinary and her power is storytelling.

I don’t know why it took me so long to discover Vicious. I am a big fan of Victoria Schwab. I absolutely loved the Shades of Magic series. I first heard about Vicious because of all the hype for the upcoming release of Vengeful. I looked into the series and I instantly knew I had to read Vicious. I am so glad that I did! I didn’t know much going into Vicious besides that it was about extraordinary abilities and revenge. Vicious was that and so much more! It was as addictive and suspenseful as everyone said!

Vicious is a story about power, revenge, friendship, and what it means to be a hero or a villain. The story focuses on Victor and Eli, who were once college roommates. (Quick sidebar. . . the cafeteria at their college sounds amazing.) Eli and Victor were fascinated by ExtraOrdinary people (or EOs), aka people who have powers. The two research and discover that EOs develop their powers after a near death experience. They decide to put their research to the test. Eli is the first to be successful and he instantly changes. Victor is jealous and doesn’t want to be a sidekick, so he tries again and is successful at becoming an EO. Eli’s power is healing/regenerating flesh and Victor’s power is the ability to take or give pain. Through a series of events, Eli and Victor become enemies. The once friends are set on two very different paths. Eli’s mission is to rid the world of all EOs because they are unnatural and against God. Victor’s mission is to bring down Eli.

The story is told using a lot of flashbacks. This was one of my favorite parts of Vicious. The timeline was fascinating and it was a perfect way to learn about the characters histories. The flashbacks range from ten years ago to one year ago to the last couple days. I’ve read a lot of books that use flashbacks to tell the story, but usually it’s just one time period. I actually really liked that the flashbacks ranged in time.

One of the major themes of Vicious is good vs. evil and what is truly right or wrong. Victor and Eli are both antagonists. Neither one is the “good” guy. To me Eli is a clear cut bad guy. Eli is a fanatic and super messed up. He believes that EOs are not the people they were before they died. . .they are shadows of their former selves. He thinks that EOs no longer have a soul and that something is missing after their experience with death. The kicker is that Eli is an EO himself, but he believes he is the exception. He believes that God wants him to kill the EOs. It was incredibly frustrating to read Eli’s point of view. He truly believes what he’s doing is right and necessary. I understand that he is most definitely mentally ill. I just really hated his character. He was so self-righteous and entitled. Schwab did a spectacular job of creating a character to hate.

Now, as for Victor. . . he is definitely an anti-hero. I was rooting for him the whole book, but I do not deny that he is not a good person. Victor’s whole life is focused on revenge. He wants to destroy Eli and he doesn’t care what or who gets in the way. Victor’s power is very interesting because it can be used for good or evil. For example, Victor takes Sydney’s pain away which is a good act, but he also uses pain to torture one of the detectives. Victor has traits of both good and evil. This brings me back to the theme of what is means to be good or evil. What makes someone a hero or a villain? While I think that Eli is a clear cut villain, I can see the argument that his mental illness is the reason for his evil acts. Therefore, is he really a villain or just someone who is very sick? Victor is definitely a hero and a villain. He is a hero when he saves Sydney and takes her in, but he is a villain when he makes her revive the detective just to kill him again. Victor is a very complex character. I think that this is Schwab’s point. Good and evil is not black and white. There is always a gray area. Despite doing some very terrible things, I liked rooting for Victor.

A couple of side notes about the other characters. Serena was terrifying! I kept thinking about her power and its ramifications. She could literally control the world! Mitch was like a giant teddy bear. I loved how much he cared about Sydney. As for Sydney, I think she’s the only truly good person in the story. She’s been through a lot of trauma and just wants to feel safe. I hope that Victor doesn’t ruin her goodness.

I absolutely loved the ending of Vicious! I especially liked how the story started and ended in a graveyard. It came full circle! Vicious ends on a cliffhanger, but it could be read as a standalone. You don’t have to read the sequel. However, I am super excited to see where Schwab takes the story in Vengeful!