Everyone knows the tale of Poveglia. The lonely island has been haunted since the time of the Red Death, the vampire plague that swept across the Continent in centuries past. Five hundred years ago the island became a mass grave, the pyre of thousands upon thousands of half-transformed victims. No Venetian will sail within sight of it. It’s said that Poveglia’s very soil is made of ash.
But sixteen-year-old Unnatural Ayanda Draculesti doesn’t believe in curses or ghosts. She’s learned well enough that the dead don’t return as spirits, they return with fangs.
It’s been a fortnight since she, Yurei, Jette and Belle battled the fiend in the Doge’s Palace and stopped her army from ravaging Venice. But their scars have hardly begun to fade when a new menace emerges from the cursed island, new creatures as mysterious as they are vicious.
Creatures that rob Ayanda of her vampiric powers. That leave Yurei at the mercy of a hideous ghost from his past. That invade Jette’s soul and tear it in two. That force Belle to discover their secrets alone.
Creatures that aren’t vampires.
For, as they learn, the Dead aren’t the only monsters lurking in the dark.
It’s been a fortnight since four young Unnaturals, Ayanda, Yurei, Jette and Belle, faced and defeated the fiend in the Doge’s Palace and stopped her from ravaging Venice with her army. But as their scars are still healing, a new threat emerges. Creatures as mysterious as they are dangerous emerge from the haunted island of Poveglia, an island that became a mass grave hundreds of years ago.
Stripped of their powers and haunted by past ghosts, our heroes will have to face the most dangerous enemy yet in a race against the clock if they have any hope of saving the city and all its inhabitants again.
Isle of Bones is a great follow-up novella to Children of the Night. I really enjoyed being back in this steampunk Venice and meeting Ayanda, Yurei, Jette and Belle again. Despite it being a fairly short read, it was packed with action right from the get-go, which made me want to turn the pages all the more quickly.
As in the first book, I loved the characters and I really enjoyed spending time with all four, even if it was short! The multiple points of view work really well to help the reader understand and get to know each character, with their traumatic past, their fears and vulnerabilities that really came to the fore in this book and helped me care for them even more.
The narration is beautifully evocative and the settings gorgeously vivid, with an almost fever-dream like quality and an air of spooky mystery surrounding the Island of Poveglia. It is just the right amount of spooky and I can certainly see myself revisiting this during spooky season!
My only issue with this book is that at times I was slightly confused as too many things happened at once, and I had to go back a few times to re-read certain passages to figure out what had just happened. The ending also felt slightly rushed and I would have liked a few more pages to bring the story to a proper close. Still, it was an engrossing read that just flew by and, if anything, was over way too soon!
This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.