The Serpent And The Wings Of Night – No Teeth

The Serpent and the Wings of Night CoverI wanted to like The Serpent and the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent, I really did. It’s set in a vampiric world, and I was ready to navigate the danger with my humanity on my sleeve. Unfortunately, I entered a world that had big, bloody intentions but fell short by skimming the surface of everything that makes a book interesting. Nothing felt new or exciting, and I quickly became bored with the immortal creatures hunting in the night. 

The little human girl trapped under the wreckage of her home does not back down from the vampires that begin to circle her. She bites the hand of one dark creature, and her ferocity amuses the powerful Nightborn King so much that he takes her back to his kingdom. The king treasures Oraya and treats her as if she were his own daughter. He shows his love by training her beyond her limits so that she can survive among predators. Her life is lonely and isolated, and Oraya is forced to be unassuming and live in fear to survive among the vampires. However, there is a way for Oraya to become an equal or maybe even be feared by these predators, but she must win the blessing of a goddess to do so. Oraya will enter the Kejari, a deadly tournament, to compete against a horde of vampires to win Nyaxia’s favor and serve at her father’s side with pride. 

The worldbuilding in this book leaves a lot to be desired. A magic system exists and that’s about all I can tell you. Specific powers are somehow connected to a pantheon of gods and goddesses, the why and how is very unclear. The premise of this book was excellent: a girl surrounded by night predators that are in every way her superiors finds a single ray of hope in the form of a potential blessing that can even the odds. But for this premise to work, the goals, barriers, and context of this blessing must be well defined to give us something to center on, and this was woefully unrealized. The vampire world is underdeveloped overall. I could not get over the fact that this vampire country existed when they are constantly being decimated by civil wars and have almost no way to replenish their population. I can’t go into the particulars because of spoilers but just know the math wasn’t mathing. A wise recommendation for writers is don’t talk about war of numbers when you have no grasp on the logistics of your world. Humans also live in this vampire country and their existence is a huge, annoying elephant in the room that doesn’t get addressed until 70% in. Again, the premise seemed really interesting but ultimately the execution was not there.

Serpent struggles to set the scene and describe characters. I found myself encountering the same descriptors over and over again, and the lack of imagery throughout the book makes everything feel flat and unremarkable. I have a very vague idea of the book’s different settings, and I swear every room had a long table in it, and once you notice the long table you can’t unsee the long table. When it comes to combat and scenes from the trial, they are quick and simplistic with characters overcoming any sort of adversity quickly. This is not made any better by Oraya and Raihn, a formulaic pair that uses cliché dialogue and checks all the boxes for a fierce young unremarkable woman who meets a beyond-powerful and brooding man that is hundreds of years old. 

I also did not like how inconsequential the injuries are in the book. Due to overpowered magic potions my DnD character would die for and insane vampire healing abilities, the violence of the world and the competition are meaningless. The characters heal so easily that there are never any believable stakes. No fewer than three people are gutted at one point, and they are all able to continue on their merry way. There are no consequences, and it effectively kills any investment surrounding Oraya’s existence among vampires and her efforts in the competition. 

Does it count as a DNF if I started skimming at the 70% mark and picked out pieces of dialogue so I got the jist? For a book about vampires, The Serpent and the Wings of Night has no bite. The book fails to engage the reader in more ways than one and never seeps deeply into the bloody world. A book can have all the tropes and follow a formula dutifully but still make a mark and grab your attention. However, this is one story that tried and failed to sink its fangs into me. 

Rating: The Serpent and the Wings of Night – 4.5/10


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