How does one define whether someone is evil? Is it by their actions? Or is it by the misfortune that they happen to be allied to the enemy? And what happens if they are but not through their own volition? This is Sabine, Queen of Illusions, supposedly even more evil than her half-brother; Omort the Deathless. The same Omort that usurped Rydstrom Woede from his throne and has been wreaking havoc on his kingdom for the past millennium give or take a century.
We briefly met Sabine in Dark Desires after Dusk, the previous book and saw then how she ensnared Rydstrom whilst he was on his way to assist his brother; Cade, in his quest. We didn’t see or hear from him again until the end of the book where apparently the tables were somehow turned. Rydstrom himself needs no introduction having been in the series for a few books now. The elder brother of Cade. Always doing the right thing, never lies. Such a goody two shoes and bloody hero he makes your teeth grate.
In Kiss of a Demon King which is set concurrently with Dark Desires after Dusk, we get to see precisely what happened during his imprisonment by Sabine. We also learn why she’s entrapped him and is ‘forcing’ him (yeah, because she really needs to) to mate with her so she can bear his child and fulfill prophecy.
I really enjoyed this instalment of the Immortals After Dark series and again we’re given a twist. Up until now, all the heroes have been dangerous and ‘bad’. Whilst Rydstrom is no less dangerous (rage demon and former king as well) there is nothing bad about him. All goodness and doing the right thing, I’m surprised he knows any cuss words. Pitied against him is Sabine, Queen of Illusions and very definitely a bad, wicked, naughty, bad girl who lies constantly. Yep. Rydstrom doesn’t stand a chance and she’s perfect for him.
Her story is such that you can’t help but root for her and her sister, Lanthe as they try and look after each other whilst avoiding not death at the hands of their insane half-brother but also his unwanted advances. I did say that he was insane. Whilst she does spend a large portion of the book teasing him mercilessly until he gives his vow (which he will keep because he is just so good and never breaks his word. Ugh!), it’s not like he actually really minds. He’s just being. When the tables are turned and he tries for parity, he does take it right to the edge for my tastes, especially when she is left defenceless against a band of thugs.
If bad boys are more to your liking however, fear not, because Lothaire makes a significant appearance. In fact, I think this is the first time he’s been back in the series since a cameo in the first book. I enjoyed every page of this book but I thought that the final battle between Rydstrom and Omort was over a little too quickly. On the other hand, there is much to be said for brevity when you just want something over and done with so that you can get back to the important stuff.
One final point I have to make is about the ever wonderful Nucking Futs Nix. As the proto-valkyrie I had built this image in my head of what her general appearance was like. However, when Rydstrom and Sabine return to his home and find her cavorting with some witches in his pool, that images is promptly and delightfully shattered as she is described before being introduced. And…yowzer!