Hardcover, 429 pages
Published August 28th 2012
by Atheneum Books
My Rating: ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀
Genre: Young Adult
True love takes a twisted turn in the second book of this modern gothic romance trilogy channeling the dark brilliance of Edgar Allan Poe.
Varen Nethers is trapped in a perilous dreamworld—a treacherous and desolate realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel Lanley, plagued by strange visions and haunted by the nightmares of Varen's creation, is the only one who can save him.
Isobel knows that her only hope lies within a Baltimore cemetery. There, in the early morning of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the "Poe Toaster" will make his annual homage at the legendary poet's grave.
Only the Poe Toaster holds the key to the way between worlds. But great dangers lie ahead for Isobel. An ancient evil, draped in veils of white, is watching, challenging her for Varen's affections. When Isobel finally finds Varen, he is no longer the quiet and brooding boy who once captivated her, but a dark force, powerful and malevolent.
Could Isobel's greatest love also be her greatest adversary?
I waited too long to read this gripping tale. This story transported me right back into the eerie nightmare world that was created in Nevermore but there is a darkness to this tale that was not as present in the first novel of the series. Perhaps it's because we see more of the nightmare world, it haunts and taunts Isobel, consumes her both when she is awake and when she asleep. She promised to bring Varen back to the real world, but doing so is not as easy as making a promise.
Yet she is determined to do so. So determined that Isobel is willing to lie and trick her parents because she knows she has only one chance to reach Varen and bring back the boy she loves. The plot pivots around Varen, but we see very little him in this novel. He is however, central to the theme of betrayal in Enshadowed. Isobel was betrayed by Reynolds, Reynolds perhaps betrayed Poe once long ago, Isobel betrays her family and denies Varen--and so Varen betrays the love that Isobel has for him. And perhaps, in doing so betrays himself.
Coming August 26, 2014
If Isobel did a lot of growing up in the first novel, I think she does even more now. She has to make hard choices, choices that hurt others, but are the only ones she can make if she is to save Varen. Isobel no longer reads like a high school student, but as young woman desperate to do the right thing but torn between doing that and the loyalty she feels to her family, to her future in cheerleading, and comes across as more vulnerable in some ways than she did in Nevermore. It adds a depth to her character that is compelling.
The nightmare world is more complex than I previously thought. Constructed out of dreams and the dark recesses of Varen's soul, it also holds the taints of the demon Lilith who lured that dark part of Varen into the dreamworld and is holding him there. Despite the lies she must have been feeding Varen, I know that Varen is not yet lost because of Pinfeathers, his Noc alterego. Pinfeathers who couldn't hurt Isobel, who tucked her ribbon into his heart even after Varen himself had tossed it away. And then, what role does Varen's mother, Madeline play in this nightmare world? What is significance of her lullaby? These are questions that I hope are answered in the next book. I also hope to see more of Varen, whose presence was ghostly in this novel.
This story is dark and layered, worth reading a second time (and I probably will) and is so beautifully crafted that every word paints a picture, tugs at your emotions and draws you ever deeper into the tale that is the Nevermore series.