Review of Venom by Bex Hogan

Marianne has never wanted to be a fighter, but with unrest and discord threatening the Twelve Islands, she will have to battle threats both inside and out in an attempt to attain peace for her homeland.
Marianne is now the Viper, but her hopes for peace in the Eastern Isles are being frustrated. The corrupt King remains on the throne, bandits are proving hard to stop and Marianne is not sure who among her crew she can truly trust.
For the islands to prosper, the invisible bond that once existed uniting land and sea must be reinstated. There’s only one way that can happen – the return of magic. To do that Marianne must put aside all her fears: she must return to her roots, the Western Isles, and call on the power that runs in her blood.
She must become a Mage.
Only then, can she possibly command the army needed to finally take down the King.

Last night I finished Venom and I am not okay. There isn’t much I can say about the story as it is full of twists and plots and secrets, but it went in a direction that I was 100% not expecting and I am not okay.

Bex Hogan has nothing to fear from Venom being the middle of the trilogy book, this has just as much excitement as Viper, maybe even more so. It is a relentless whirling tsunami of a book, never letting up. Marianne is always on her toes, having to check her back constantly and her time on the Maiden certainly serves her well here – if you’ve read the Mortal Coil series it has a similarly consistent heart pounding feel, but with added foreboding. Despite feeling so unsure of herself for so much of the story, I actually found that Marianne had amazing focus, no matter what was thrown at her and the distractions she faced the one constant was that she wanted to bring peace. She has wonderful humanity and kindness, kindness that repays her both in kind but sadly also in those who would take advantage of that. Whilst it is her strongest and most endearing quality it leaves her more open to manipulation, although that is not a weakness and many mistake it for such at their peril.

The book is split well between West and East, the West is the mystery and it does feel, well it feels more magical which is unsurprising, the islands have a completely different tone to the East, but it is clear that the hardship is spreading across all the isles. Marianne’s time in the mountains was my favourite part of her time in the Western Isles.  Following on from a unusual but touching reunion, her journey brings her into contact with some truly beautiful creatures and some great new characters, but it is the political games that she finds herself in, drawing a frightening parallel of what she has left in the East, that signal is where the story takes a turn. There is a lot of darkness in the closing stages and Marianne’s trials left me utterly bereft and ultimately heartbroken. My breath was catching, I was turning each page with increasing trepidation not believing what I was reading. The writing is truly phenomenal, the emotion it wrought was incredible and left me choked with tears. Remember how much I said I was not okay?

Venom is an outstanding follow up to Viper and Bex Hogan is a wonderful talent, I enjoyed every single breathtaking page but now I have to try and find a coping mechanism until book 3 is released, wish me luck!



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