It can be tricky, reviewing the second book of what is (currently) a trilogy. I have to be careful here. When I was last reading Sasha Hibbs, I found myself pulverized by a brutal and powerful ending that I don’t want to spoil in the review of its sequel. However, this much can be said from the get-go: the first book, BLACK AMARANTH, left our hero Ally in a very difficult place. Apart from the threat that she believes she represents to the world—and who can blame her?—she now has to deal with heartbreak, hatred, remorse, guilt, and the seeming loss of the her own powers, powers which she only recently began to understand. But because this IS Ally we’re talking about, we keep reading. And so we come to BLACK ABADDON, Book 2 of the Vulcan Legacies. And the bad news, if none of the above qualifies as such, is that the Devourer is far from done with his wicked machinations. In a dark fantasy by Sasha Hibbs, the reader can expect that the action will not slow down for the emotional havoc previous catastrophes have wrought. No, the story steams forward with the inexorable lack of pity of a train without brakes, even as we experience the trauma with Ally. To do this and make a reader believe it, especially with a young protagonist, is a nice trick, and a hallmark of Hibbs’s talent. We can be encouraged by her “God” character, represented here in Ally’s interview with “The Authority,” but it’s a short respite. All too soon (in a literal sense; dramatically, it’s lots of fun), we have to stand alongside Ally for a vampiric blood trial, where the accused’s actions are revealed in a public and potentially fatal ritual. The revelations draw sympathy towards a character neither Ally nor the reader would have expected to empathize with … More revelations follow. Remember Dave and Jessica from the first book? Quite often, they seemed like they were hanging on the coattails of other characters—mostly along for the ride, and to develop the rapport between young characters that was, and remains, a story about kids who are far, far over their own heads. But no—they’re embroiled in it far more directly than they ever expected. See how careful I’m being? I can’t give this stuff away … I stand by what I said in the first review. If there’s anything difficult in the midst of all this pathos and adventure, it’s that you’ll sometimes have to review your notes to keep up. The story is relentless, and although Sasha Hibbs has a clear handle on the reigns, some of us have to work a little to keep up. It’s worth it, though. Very, very worth it. BLACK ABADDON, by Sasha Hibbs, is more than a dark, swirling cauldron of nightmare fantasy. It’s a character study on survivors’ guilt, and the continuation of a multi-layered epic that sometimes unfolds like a flower—and other times spirals out ahead of you like a vine racing out to strangle a loved one.
Vulcan Legacies, 2
Ally Watson struggles to live with the choices she made, the worst of which resulted in her soul mate's death. Michael’s sacrifice to save the girl he loved may have reversed the Apocalypse, but not the permanent damage inflicted by living with his loss.
Ally begins a journey where she soon discovers that death is not always the end, but sometimes the very beginning. With old friends, she journeys to the Nosferatu Nation where she meets with new alliances willing to help her in her quest to defeat the Devourer. At every turn, Ally unearths secrets that threaten to destroy those she loves.
The second installment of The Vulcan Legacies series will put Ally to the ultimate test, forcing her to face her fears and the true destiny she will fulfill as Azrael, the Seraph of Death.
14+ for brief language and adult situations
The door swung open as a familiar voice said, “Come on out, child.”
That voice. It triggered a memory. That tune. A mix of Southern soul drifting through metal reeds. She recognized it.
Stepping out onto the porch, she glanced over at the man relaxing in Grandma Blackwell’s rocking chair.
“You…” Ally said in a whisper as she stared at the old man, the same one from Lou’s House of Blues.
At once Miss Elma came running up the stairs, skidding to a stop at the old man’s feet.
“Miss Elma! It’s good to see you again, girl,” he said, his fingers gliding through her black fur. “Guards from the Gates, such loyal beings.”
“Who are you?” Ally asked.
“I am what I am,’ he said, his gaze sliding over and resting directly on Ally.
Ally jumped. There were no irises, only pools of blazing white fire where eyes should have been. “You were the man from Brunswick, at the bar. Why are you here? What are you?” A torrent of questions spilled from her mouth. She looked at the old man, his aged features covering up what lay under his skin.
“His blood cried out to me. The balance has shifted,” he said, his voice now a deep baritone.
Ally fell, her face down, nose to the porch. She trembled. “Are you the Authority?”
“My dear child, lift your eyes to mine. Do not be afraid,” he said.
Ally lifted her head. She felt a warm wet trickle at the corner of her mouth. She brushed her finger over her bottom lip. She stared down at her finger, its tip smeared with a trace of blood.
“I’m dying,” Ally said, slowly standing erect.
The Authority stood, the porch creaking under his weight. “You are Death, dear child. You simply are going through the seasons of your life.”
Ally wanted to ask so many things. This was the Authority. Although he told her not to be afraid, she was, but in a great and powerful way. It was euphoric and frightening at the same time to be in his presence.
The Authority stepped off the porch, Miss Elma behind him. He placed his hands behind his back, as though in thought. He looked out into the distance.
“I am my word and my word is absolute. My existence is without beginning and end. I have watched my children rise and fall in silence. I have had great ages to reflect on creation, what I have created,” he said. The Authority turned to face Ally and said, “Walk with me, child.”
Ally descended the steps and stopped at his side.
“I love every season. Each has its own splendor to offer,” the Authority said, taking small strides, Miss Elma padding beside him. They walked to the gravel road in front of Michael’s house. Ally followed beside him in silence.
“Summer is ending. How I love the warmth, the forest bursting with life, the creeks flowing in abundance. But soon it fades into autumn, and the colors of the earth rise high into the trees, the brightest hues going out in a glory of orange and red. As the color fades, cold begins to settle in. Winter brings ice and snow and takes away all that is green and alive to the outward eye.” The Authority continued walking. He brushed the tips of his fingers along Ally’s arm then shoved his hand back into his pocket.
Starting at Ally’s wrist, where the Authority touched her, the black lines lit up, racing up her arms, her torso, her neck. She gasped. It was like at the twins’ house, but more pronounced.
“What is the season of your life?” the Authority asked, halting.
Ally stopped beside him. Looking up, Ally noticed they traveled to His Eternal Garden, the cemetery Michael was buried in.
“I don’t know,” Ally whispered, a million thoughts racing through her mind.
“Many would say winter is the worst season. It’s cold, all life frozen, the ground hard like rock. But after the bitter cold has passed, life emerges anew. The yellowest daffodils bursting through its icy predecessor reminds us that even after death, life will spring forth and continue on. That is your season: winter,” the Authority said.
“Winter? I’m at the end?” Ally asked.
The Authority laughed, his voice warm, amused. “No, dear child. You’ve not cycled to spring yet. You are like winter: icy and frozen, life lying dormant under your skin.”
“I chose wrong. Michael’s dead. The Devourer is here, on Earth. I beg your forgiveness, but why me? How will I stop the Apocalypse? I couldn’t even keep Michael alive and all I had to do was choose him,” Ally said, her gaze leaving the white light tracing around her body to look at the Authority.
The Authority waved his hand, the gate to His Eternal Garden swinging open. “I can see into your heart. No secrets, thoughts, emotions are hidden from me. I am all-seeing,” the Authority said, walking through the cemetery gate. “Your heart chose Michael, that is what I see. My most treasured gifts to the world: faith, hope, and love, are also the most powerful weapons.”
Ally wanted to ask so many things. But the Authority already knew, he said as much. She continued to listen, shocked to even be in his presence and stunned at him choosing to reveal himself to her. There must be some purpose behind his encounter and hidden meaning to his words. But what?
“I made Seraphs in my image, my true image. The Devourer once was the brightest Morning Star in all of the Gates. I loved him dearly as a father would, my heart swelling with pride and delight. I didn’t want to see the greed and lust for power growing in his heart. I had hoped, rather than believe his thirst for my throne would pass. But it did not,” the Authority said. Ally could hear the pain of the past in his voice.
“Why not stop him before he tried to take your throne?” Ally asked, the question slipping out of her mouth, instantly wishing she hadn’t asked, for fear of provoking his wrath.
If the Authority was angry, he restrained himself. He opened his palm, a white light shining out like a beacon. “A father teaches his children all that is right and good and when the time comes, they stand back, watching in the shadows, hoping they imparted enough wisdom that their children make the right choices. I did no less for the Devourer. I gave him free will, like all my children, and waited until the last moment to wreak punishment on him for his sins, and then he was cast into darkness, his light going out.” The Authority closed his palm, the light extinguished.
“I am sorry for letting you down,” Ally said. She thought briefly what a mundane, childish thing to say to a being that deserved prettier words than she could muster, but she was sorry, for everything she did.
“Michael’s sacrifice halted the Devourer’s ability to utilize your capabilities as Death. He wanted the blaxxmith army Samyaza created. If you remember, I promised Vulcan this would come to pass should you fail, and I am my word,” the Authority said, his white gaze burning into Ally.
“Yes,” Ally said, her knees trembling.
“A trade off exists much like a balance. And he has traded, in order to gain something more powerful,” the Authority said, his voice steady and calm.
“What did he trade?” Ally asked, her voice faint.
“Suffice it to say that he had to relinquish an innocent in order to trade off for the Hell Hounds Samyaza imprisoned long ago with the Devourer.”
“Who? The blaxxmiths?” Ally asked. She could understand the offspring of Vulcan and the Gypsies—they were by all rights blameless for who and what they were. The Devourer had no other innocent in his possession. All who had struck a bargain with him forfeited their soul.
“No. The blaxxmiths will still play their role as I promised millennia ago. But your mother, my sweet Seraph of Faith, had the foresight to see your path and weaved a delicate balance of her own. Her last words to me before being sent out into the world were to have faith in what I created. I do so now by showing myself to you.”
“I don’t understand,” Ally said. She remained still sure that one lift of his finger could easily kill her. Ally was afraid of non-existence and longing for it at the same time. She felt small and weak in front of him.
“You were given Vulcan’s fire, wings from the Gates, immortality and you wanted none of them. Now they are gone, you want them back,” the Authority said. “Those were gifts. And they were taken as a consequence of your decision to maintain the balance.” He stopped at Michael’s grave. Ally looked down at her terrible mistake; it had been covered up by six feet of dirt.
“Remember, you are in the winter of your life. You must learn to forgive and it must come from within. I will not give your gifts back. That is for another to decide. For where there is life, there is death. Where there is death there is destruction. Where there is destruction, new life will rise up to replace what was taken,” the Authority said. He waved his hand over Michael’s grave, big stalks of black amaranth springing up.
“I want to make it right. I want to save my friends. I’m so sorry…”
“Remember this, home is where the heart is,” the Authority turned to face her. He lifted his hand and rested his palm against her dreamcatcher.
A white light burst out from it so bright she had to close her eyes. She clutched onto the black feather for fear it would incinerate against the hot wind blowing up against her. Miss Elma let out a howl.
“I have commanded time to stand still. When you open your eyes, time will resume. You will be with your companions. I will not show myself again and it will be as though I never did. You will remain silent and tell no one I showed myself to you. Keep me in your heart and let your winter pass,” he said. His voice began to fade.
“No, wait!” Ally said, opening her eyes.
“For what? We’re here,” Brandi said.
Ally looked around. Dave was glued to Lucy’s side. Uncle Argyle and Parthenia were to her left, looks of confusion on their face.
“Where are we?” Ally asked.
Beside Elizabeth, Jessica raised an eyebrow. Eli and the High Sons were standing by gates that stretched so high, Ally couldn’t see their peaks in the darkness. Mariah and her guards went through the creaking gates first.
“The Nosferatu Nation,” Belle Crow said, the Ravenscraft sisters behind her.
This is a solid Book 2! We're first introduced to Ally in Black Amaranth, and she's taken quite a journey since then. Black Abaddon continues the story after Marik has killed Michael, but only because he was possessed, and Ally has lost her Seraph of Death powers. The apocalypse is coming and the entire cast of characters are scrambling to figure out how to deal with it. It soon becomes clear that new alliances will be formed and old ones broken. And then you have Ally and Marik striking out on their own after Marik's blood trial. This is where the story really started to sing for me. The connection and growth that you see between these two is wonderful—it keeps you turning those pages! I did have a difficult time following all of the plot twists, as there were quite a few. Perhaps scaling back on the number of characters would be helpful in the third installment of this series. The ending however, is one of the best I've read in a long time. And I read a lot! I was totally taken by surprise and it was so very enjoyable. You'll find yourself sighing because Book 3 isn't out yet. I don't want to give anything away, but I'm super intrigued to see where Ms. Hibbs takes this story. Dark and Light battle it out for sure, but she's crafted a unique take on an age-old story that you don't want to miss
Eagerly awaited this second installment and it most certainly did not disappoint!! A real page turner, one of the books that is too hard to put down before it is completely devoured. Hmm, I have to wait how long before the next one?
Ok write faster!!!! I have to know whats going on in the third book!! I love the second more than the first! Perfect amounts of mysteries to keep you hooked. Unexpected turns and twisted! Intrigue in every chapter all I can truly say is I am so impressed Ms. Hibbs is a talented writer and I can not wait to buy every book she puts out!
In Black Abaddon we see Ally quite broken, everyone is dealing with the aftermath of book one in which her soul mate Michael was killed but Ally is struggling because she is now the Angel of Death and failed her test, therefore she failed everyone including Michael. The Devourer is still on the loose and everyone must come together to save the world from the evil that is coming. When Mariah, the Princess of the Nosferatu turns up looking for her brother Marik & long lost brother Michael, a surprising alliance is on the horizon and it looks like Ally will have to unite everyone for the battle to come. It soon becomes clear that whilst everyone is scrambling to build alliances, the Devourer is also building an army and some of our favourites are in for a shock when we find out who he has sided with… be prepared for anything as nothing and no one is safe! As I mentioned above, Ally is a sad figure in this, she seems to have lost hope as she struggles with guilt, grief and the knowledge that everyone around her is at risk. Her powers are evolving and seemingly bestowed from up high but she’s struggling and finding it hard to deal with things. Her feelings are put to the test again but I’m hoping the gutsy, determined fighter will be back soon, we get a glimpse toward the ending but we need more! This book was very sombre and had a very sad feel because of the ending of book one. The threat is still very palpable & urgent but the beginning very much focussed on the aftermath of book one, it was still filled with a lot of information and all of the characters dealing with their own feelings about what happened though. Things begin to look up as the start of some alliances are forged and the group is pulled together by mystical forces but don’t expect things to get any better, get the tissues ready because there will be tears and heartbreak which is going to change a LOT of lives. I mentioned in my review of book one that the secondary characters are just as important and their stories are just as interesting, this doesn’t change here because not only is Ally going through turmoil but everyone else is too and there is no let-up in the pain & sacrifice department because everyone will lose something in this but that just makes you route for them all the more, I want them to succeed, I want them to band together, I want them all to find their soul mate and I need them all to get a HEA. Further into the book Ally seems to take charge of herself, making a few realisations and coming to some conclusions which leads the story to take on a run and chase feel as Ally starts to flee from her troubles and it seems like the devourer will never stop hunting her which definitely adds to the excitement of the book and leads to an absolutely amazing ending that really has the wow factor and leaves me desperate for book 3… just brilliant!