Title: Nocturne (Hours of the Night: Book Two)
Author: Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt
Length: 300 Pages
Category: Paranormal, Fantasy
At a Glance: Nocturne, book two in Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt’s Hours of the Night series, is next level entertaining and suspenseful.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It’s Mardi Gras, cher, but this year le bon temps kick off with murder…
For generations, the White Monks have treated the vampire Thaddeus Dupont as a weapon in their battle against demons. However, when a prominent matron drops dead at a party, Thaddeus and his lover Sarasija are asked to find her killer. Their investigation leads them to an old southern family with connections everywhere: Louisiana politics, big business, the Church, and an organization just as secret as the White Monks.
Meanwhile, an esoteric text containing spells for demon-summoning has disappeared, Thaddeus is losing control of le monster, and Sara is troubled by disturbing dreams. These nightmares could be a side-effect of dating a vampire, or they could be a remnant of his brush with evil. As the nights wear on, Sara fears they are a manifestation of something darker – a secret that could destroy his relationship with Thaddeus.
Review: Nocturne, book two in Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt’s Hours of the Night series, is next level entertaining and suspenseful. As much as I liked the heck out of Vespers and the introduction to their alternate New Orleans, this new full-length installment in the series not only advances its overall arc but gives a whole new dimension to Sarasija Mishra—vampire Thaddeus Beaumont’s human lover—and adds more than a bit of moral conflict for our pious demon hunting vampire, and I loved it.
If you’re already into the series, then you know that Thad straddles two worlds. He is man and le monstre. He is righteous and sinner. He is spiritual and secular. He is in love with Sara and punishes himself for it. He’s a 115-year-old man in a contemporary world, and self-flagellation, both physical and psychological, is the price he pays for existing in direct contradiction to his faith. Parts of the series are told from Thad’s first-person point of view, and in those passages, we see his internal struggle as that of a man who believes with all he is that his very existence is a sin, an abomination, and yet, for him to do anything as drastic as to choose to end his life would be a violation of his Catholic faith. There’s a point in the story where Thad says, “I didn’t dare countermand his invitation, though for the life of me, I had no idea how I’d entertain a houseful of strangers,” and I loved what I’m going to call a slip of the tongue here, even if the authors intended it as tongue-in-cheek. Or, meant nothing by it at all. “For the life of me” is something Thad struggles with in every fiber of his being, in addition to the external conflicts he faces.
Sara’s evolution in this novel is fabulous. It would have been rather obtuse of me not to expect his association with a vampire to alter his life in unimaginable ways. Add demons and witches to the equation, and those alterations put Sara up against a few serious problems, not the least of which is his relationship with Thad and Thad’s contrary need to have Sara near and the belief that Sara would be better off running as far away from Louisiana as fast as he can. I grew to love Sara even more in this book. His loyalty to Thad comes not from a place of duty but from a place of love. His strength comes not from a place of religious faith but from a place of personal conviction that Thad is honorable and good. I couldn’t help but feel their relationship, while dealt an unexpected twist, is now on more solid ground.
The mission in this novel provides the danger, both worldly and otherworldly, needed to keep readers on the edge of our proverbial seat. A missing grimoire in the wrong hands is all it takes for hell to break loose during Mardi Gras, which leads to another thing I love about the series: its setting. New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou are characters unto themselves—why else would authors choose it as a place to tell stories of the supernatural? It is a place steeped in the history of voodoo inspired spiritualism, ghost stories and haunted cemeteries, so of course it should be rife with all manner of the metaphysical as well. It lives and breathes to inspire the story in and around it, and the authors handle it with aplomb.
The secondary characters, most notably Thad’s paladin, Nohea, along with twins Jo-Jo, aptly combined and hyphenated, add yet another layer of dimension to the story. I wasn’t at all sure about the twins at first, but I ended up liking them in the end. I think… Trust? No. But like, sure. There is a secondary conflict still playing out involving Nohea, a missing child, and the part Thad played in all of that provides for a mounting tension between Nohea and Thad, one that’s somewhat detrimental to their working relationship, so it’s going to be interesting to watch that play out in future books. Or, at least the next book, depending upon how many are planned for the series.
A murder mystery adds another layer to the Southern Gothic feel of the story. The investigation and the subsequent revelation of the mastermind behind the chaos, inspired by dark magic and steeped in tradition and in-fighting, is suspenseful and leaves an ellipsis at its end… There are still strange things afoot for Thad, Sara, and Nohea to confront. The more the better, as far as I’m concerned. Who doesn’t need an occasional departure into the extreme and unusual?
You can buy Nocturne here: