Content Warnings: Strong Language, Violence, Blood, Gore, Light Smut
Dianna, who is bound in servitude to Kaden whom saved her sister’s life, is tasked with finding an ancient relic that will fulfill his biggest desire: ripping the realms open again.
Meanwhile, Liam, who is a king thought to be long dead and forgotten and a savior to his followers, returns when one of his closest friends is killed. He now returns to the realm he never wanted to visit again and works with an enemy he thought was long gone.
Together, these ancient enemies must put aside their differences and work together to save their world and all the realms in between.
Book of Azrael is one of the greatest books I’ve read. The tension and stakes are high, and the characters are so life-like, its as if this story is based on true events.
If you liked A Daughter of Smoke and Bone, then you’ll also love this book!
- A map!
- Spotify playlist
- Info dumping at the beginning
- Cliffhanger ending
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Before diving in, I’d like to address the elephant in the room: that fucking ending! How dare Amber Nicole leave us hanging like that when the next book doesn’t come out until 2024?! I need answers! I need to know what happens next!
Outside of my crushed heart over the slap-in-the-face cliffhanger, the plot was solid and beautifully done. Although I did forget what the end goal was at times during road trip portion, but I’m okay with that.
I was so immersed in the romance that was budding and the intense dreams that I didn’t mind briefly forgetting. It seemed that the characters did too at times. Even if this portion does pull you from the urgency and danger of the overall plot, it was a sweet reprieve that fit well within the story.
One of my favorite things this plot did was answer its own plot holes, such as going to Roccurrem first when finding out about the book. Or when the vampire wife was suddenly back after Kaden kidnapped Gabby.
And, instead of Nicole telling us the answers, she let the readers inferrer what happened and answered the questions through dialog. Which is great! Especially if anything ends up changing later, because then it’s more on the character’s false information than writing consistencies.
Also, the mini-history lessons and the dream sequences were great. They were fun (sometimes) and gave more insight into the characters that we needed. But the best thing was that they were inserted in at appropriate times, to where they didn’t disconnect you from the main story.
Now, since we got a rage-induced cliffhanger, I still have questions that I expect to be answered in the next book. Such as:
- Who is Kaden?
- Whom is Dianna supposed to be replacing of the Kings of Yejedin?
- Why would Azrael write and create a weapon to defeat Liam?
- What is Kaden’s plan now that his only leverage over Dianna is dead?
Overall, the plot is riveting and thrilling to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I struggled finding good stopping points when I was needed back in reality.
The way these characters are written is beautiful. They all feel so real with their complexities, dialog, and their personalities.
However, I will say that it took me a handful of chapters to connect with Dianna. It wasn’t until I listened to the Spotify playlist and when Liam was introduced that I connected with her. (Seriously, that playlist is the best thing you can do when reading this book!)
Dianna is strong as fuck— mentally, physically, and emotionally. The fact she endured Kaden’s abuse for centuries speaks volumes about her love for her sister and her endurance.
She play’s Kaden’s game well and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, but the best part is seeing her with her sister, Gabby. Dianna becomes so normal, relaxed, and happy. She deserves it, too.
Then to see her internal conflict about Liam drive her head over heels for him is so sweet. The constant mental struggle about wanting to hate him, but also being attracted to Liam is so well done as it plays out in her actions and the small, unusual decisions she makes to help him.
Dianna deserves all the soft and good things in the world. She’s been through enough. Amber Nicole, if you’re reading this, please give Dianna a happy ending!
Liam is such a strong, but tender and broken man. His character development was specifically something I loved. He was able to heal in trusting and comforting arms. He was able to face some of the things that had haunted him, which I think helped that Dianna could see some of his memories.
I’m thrilled to see how he will step up to being King, taking down Kaden, and helping Dianna through this rough time after her sister has been killed.
No good book is complete without a strong cast of side characters. Each character had such a different and unique personality that it was truly beautiful to read. I love seeing the diversity, not only in personality but appearance as well.
When it came to the celestials, you could feel the loyalty and respect they hold towards Liam. They think of him highly when he doesn’t think it of himself. Also, The Hand truly feels like a family that has grown and been through shit together, but they are still close, if not closer. I love seeing the interactions and the relationships between each member. Getting to see Xavier and Cameron at the end was so fun. I want to see more of them.
Then there is Gabby. She’s such a light-hearted person, but I don’t see how she does it. She can’t have a happily ever after with a mortal, nor can she ever truly feel safe. But she lives her life, pursues her passions, and forms relationships, even if they are temporary.
Even the villains were likable with their banter. Alister was a cool character and I wish he would have survived instead of Tobias. I can’t stand that man. And Kaden is so mysterious that I’m expecting a big reveal on his true identity. One that will shake the celestials’s world.
Before I get into all the good things about writing, I want to state my one issue. At the very beginning, there was a lot of info dumping about the different courts/Otherworld creatures that it was overwhelming. This might be why I wasn’t able to connect with Dianna at first. But, regardless, info-dumping was not an issue as the book progressed.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the beautiful writing in the Book of Azrael.
The foreshadowing is great. We get snippets of what’s to come through Dianna and Liam’s high-alert senses, Gabby’s little pep talks with Dianna, and other minor events. These minute details lead up to big decisions and big events later.
Also, the tone would change ever so slightly around characters who were set to betray Dianna or revealed to not be who they truly are, like with Ava and Drake. This was my favorite foreshadowing tool that Nicole used as it set you more on edge and looking for other crumbs.
While I knew there was something coming based on the foreshadowing, the book still left an air of mystery as to what was actually to come. Which I love.
Mental Illness & Trauma
Sometimes authors don’t always handle mental illness or trauma situations with care and only use them as plot devices or show them through rose-colored lenses, but in the Book of Azrael, this wasn’t the case.
PTSD and depression were prominent in Liam and it was evident from the beginning. His nightmares, refusal of food, clamming up, irritability, etc. are strong indicators of his illnesses. The way Nicole went about introducing his illnesses and weaving them into the story was fantastic.
Liam having these conditions makes sense based on what he did and what he had to experience. And then how Dianna helped with his mental health and working through his trauma, is spot on.
Then Dianna experienced a lot of abuse and trauma, which caused her to shut down and shy away from affection. She was so used to violence and being forced to do things she didn’t want that when she got a choice or simple words of affirmation, she melted. This is an accurate response and one that caused a lot of internal conflicts.
Overall, I love how Nicole handled mental health and trauma in this book. It was respectful, accurate, and not made up just to push the plot.
I am struggling to find the words to describe this wonderful and fascinating book. Everything about it was spot on and thoroughly thought out that I didn’t have to think too much about any of it. The pieces were all there and they fit together beautifully.
To say the least, I am OBSESSED with this book. I need more of these characters and the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and journey this book took me on. During my rough few weeks of 2023, this is a shining light in a dark cave.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who wants a new obsession, especially when mixed with the Spotify playlist. But be warned, the next book is over a year away from coming out!
What did you think of the book? Did you like it or could you have done without it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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