Note: I was asked for a review by the author
Sophie’s life has changed. She’s moved to New York, she’s playing music for new people, and she’s making new friends. Then there’s Myles, and the fact that he is now her boyfriend—and everyone knows it. There are a lot of new things to take in, but Sophie has no problem adjusting.
She’s not exactly normal, living in a half-human, half-vampire world, but she’s finally, truly happy. But some parts of Sophie and Myles’ old life still hide in the dark, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.
Sophie’s having nightmares again, but they aren’t about her; Myles is hiding something that she’s not sure she wants to know. And one lie will change everything.
No matter how hard she tries to cover up the marks her monsters have left behind, they never truly go away, and Myles’ monsters are no different. Once again, Sophie’s caught between life and death, but this time, only she can save herself.
Rae did a wonderful job building up my affections and emotions towards her characters…and then she goes and brutally crushes them. But alas, spoilers. But honestly, my emotions were totally and brutally crushed in this book.
In the second book in the Sunshine series we see Sophie living in New York, playing at Midnight with her band, and working at the club selling merchandise. She has escaped her mother, she is doing what she loves, and she has boyfriend Myles plus her friends Boo and Trei to enjoy life with.
But Sophie is still haunted by her past and now she is also now haunted by other people’s as well. The incident with Michael has brought Sophie into Myles’ world even more and she is resisting as much as she can. With Myles’ help she tries to forget the events six months ago and tries to focus on her new exciting life, but the past is never far behind.
We learn a bit more about the supernatural world this time around, Sophie learns more from Myles and situations that she becomes involved in reveal additional rules and elements of the vampire world, though this time she tries to stay away from it, unprepared to become involved after what happened last time.
The events from the first novel are not forgotten and are revisited, and we also see Sophie become more involved with the paranormal side of her life. What was done well was that those who have not read the first book are explained a few things in fractured recaps throughout the second. While some things are explained, others are simply hinted at and require construction from various comments and references. This is good because while you are left in the dark about a lot of things that occur in the first book, especially specific details or certain characters and histories, the reminders are there, keeping the timeline in check, while also filling in a few gaps and questions at the same time. This also acts as a reminder to readers that the past events are still vivid and that they have not been forgotten. Book two is not a new adventure, it is a continuing saga that began in Sunshine and will continue in this book and through the lives of Sophie and her friends and family.
The plot style is curious, the element of mystery is not strong per se, but the drawn out nature and untold information keeps you going to try and find the answers. There is a curiosity that has been created to get you involved with these characters once again, and I did find myself getting further attached to these characters, I will say not to all of them, but it did not entirely matter. Each character is unique in their own way, all with stable development behind them that is adequate to their needs in the story and ours, even if it is revealed slowly or straight away. As with Sunshine the characters drive the story and their experiences and lives keep you wanting more and whether that is day to day life and struggles, or whether it is something phenomenal is unimportant.
As a result of this curiosity and mystery it does make you a tad suspicious as you try and work out if people have ulterior motives and where the story is possibly leading to. As we follow Sophie we again only learn as she does, and when events happen around her we only catch glimpses and must piece things together or be patient until they are revealed. There was the slightest hint in Sunshine I thought that there may be something special about Sophie, these theories were reignited and annoyingly and skilfully only hinted at again in Sun Poisoned which leaves a lot to the imagination.
There are again various incidents and events in this book that occur, some are more complicated and severe compared to those in the first book and Rae writes about these and the experience just as well as before. There are descriptions and emotions used that are excellent at helping us to see and understand them from Sophie’s perspective, even if they are not always about her specifically. This adds to the nice uncertainty because we only know what Sophie knows and what people tell her. I think, especially for the latter half of the book, this is incredible important and something that third person could not achieve with the same level of satisfaction. There needs to be an emotional connection in this story and these books because characters are the key and readers need to understand them more than a third person point of view could adequately provide.
The beginning feels a little bit slow but we get a lot of information in the first half. We learn more about Myles’ life and world, as well as a few outcomes of the events in the last book. Characters are being re-established, a few new ones are introduced, and there is development of Myles and Sophie’s relationship.
The good thing about this development we see of Sophie and Myles’ relationship is how Rae has approached it. Instead of focusing on the romance element on its own, instead it is shown through other events and the actions of others. This is a clever move because it protects the story from being purely about their romance with other things happening around them, or having moments of story, and then moments of their romance. This is where their connection shines, intertwined through life and the people around them.
There is a defining halfway point where it feels a switch is flipped, but it isn’t sudden either. It is like things have gradually been getting more intense without you realising and then all of a sudden something happens and you never come back down. I really enjoyed the story from this point, there was a lot of investment with what was happening and Rae writes drama so well, especially for characters so it was highly emotional to read.
Similarly to the first book, the language is casual on occasion; the tone Sophie uses connects with the continual descriptive nature of the story. She recounts what she does and she describes almost exactly what she sees and feels. In that sense it works together. There is a consistence in the writing style which doesn’t make anything stick out in particular as you read, but certain elements can be identified looking at the story as a whole.
Rae has again created a wonderful slow reveal story with a thread of hidden secrets, and while it may not feel gripping initially it is by the ending I assure you, the suspense and uncertainty that fills most of the last half of the book keeps you on edge as you are eager and impatient to see where it leads. And in between then you still get intrigued and involved with these characters, this is what keeps you going to the excitement and excellent ending that inevitable develops. I could easily reread this series right away. This is a strong temptation stopped only by the pile of other books I have to read. I impatiently wait for book three.