FANGIRL ALERT FANGIRL ALERT FANGIRL ALERT
I was very lucky and appreciative to be sent an ARC of Evermore by Lynn Viehl. A book I have been desperately looking forward to, since I read what had to be the best teaser ever in the back of Night Lost.
Okay, anyone who's read my reviews of the other Darkyn books, knows that I love Lynn Viehl. So you've been warned, I will however, try to keep this as objective as possible and the gushing to a minimum. :) And hopefully spoiler free.
I have never been able to choose a favourite Darkyn book before. To me there was always something unique about each one - Alex's spunky personality, Thierry's torment, Jema's fragility, Valentin's nobility, Lucan's amorality - that left me unable to decide between them. Evermore, I simply loved.
Evermore tells the story of Jayr and Byrne who we first met in Dark Need (Bk 3). Byrne is the suzerain of Knight's Realm - a castle complete with moat, where tourists visit to experience medieval life. Jayr is unique among the Darkyn as she is the only female seneschal. We join them during a winter tournament, when humans are banished from the castle and Kyn from all over the country and from Europe, test themselves against one another in sword fighting, jousting and archery. Byrne has made the decision to step down as suzerain, a fact which he keeps from Jayr. As their relationship strains against the conventions that keep them apart, an unknown enemy will use the tournament to seek revenge.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Kyn series, whilst each book follows one couple, there is also an ongoing arc between Michael and Alexandra (the couple from If Angels Burn Bk1). The Brethren (the Kyn's enemy) and John Keller are only mentioned briefly, but I think significantly. We also have new plot threads, notably the proper introduction of Robin of Locksley as a member of the Kyn. (I'd just like to say - YAY!) We also find out a lot more about the Jardin Wars when Kyn fought against Kyn.
I think Evermore is a pretty accessible entry in the series, as a major plotline was concluded in the previous book Night Lost. The plotline of Evermore is perhaps the most linear so far, and even though there are still multiple storylines, they take place in one location - Knight's Realm. However, there is also some fallout from Night Lost, as Alex deals with the consequences of her kidnap by Richard, so familiarity with the previous books is helpful.
There is a wonderful parallel in this book, between the relationships of Michael and Alex, and Jayr and Byrne. Jayr and Alex turned into Kyn under similar circumstances, trapped with a starving male Kyn. But the way Byrne and Michael handled the situation, completely different. Alex becomes Michael's sygkenis, Jayr becomes Byrne's seneschal. And the contrast between the two relationships is just wonderful to read. There is a point early in the story where Michael confesses his guilt over turning Alex to Jayr, and it's eerie, I felt like it could be Byrne speaking.
For me this is the most darkly erotic of the Darkyn books so far. Maybe because the feelings between Jayr and Byrne have to be repressed. The relationship between them is totally suzerain and seneschal, but underneath you are aware of this passionate intensity between the two of them that they deny. Partly I think because they have to work together, partly because of Byrne's guilt, and also because Jayr has not gone through puberty (a condition caused by severe malnutrition, not dissimilar to that of Jema Shaw from Book 2 though hers was caused by drugs). (This matter is resolved, and gives me hope that one day Jamys will have his own book.) This tension builds and builds until it HAS to be consummated. But the Kyn who seeks vengeance won't be denied.
Also worth mentioning again, is Robin of Locksley - whose past has come back to haunt him. Indeed that could be the other theme of this book - as both Robin, Byrne, Alex, Vivianna and Rainer deal with the consequences of their past. Robin's story entwines with that of Jayr and Byrne, this is definitely a book where a re-read helps clarify motivation. Just rereading the ending again whilst I write this review, makes me appreciate anew how well the story is put together. I think Robin Hood fans are going to find lots to sink their teeth into. I have my fingers crossed that there will be a continuation of Robin's story in a future book. As I'm sure there's much more for us to learn.
Jayr and Byrne's story reaches a happy conclusion. However, Evermore ends on a bittersweet note, and leaves me looking forward to finding out, more than ever, where the story goes from here.
Evermore is released on January 2nd. Highly recommended.