Well, this is a bit of an overdue review. I’ve been sitting with Vulture by Bex Hogan for quite some time, trying to formulate my thoughts into a solid review. Today, I think I’ve achieved that.
Thank you to Emily Thomas and Hannah Bradridge at Hachette Children’s Group for sending me a copy in exchange for a honest review.
We are all one misstep away from being the villain…
Marianne has passed the ultimate test required to be a Mage. She is finally powerful enough to reunite the Twelve Isles.
But having exposed herself to the darker side of magic, Marianne is struggling. The magic within her is nearly impossible to control, and she becomes cruel and violent, mercilessly pursuing those who have harmed her in the past, ignoring the pleas of those closest to her to remember what’s really important: saving the islands.
Everything she’s fought for has come down to this. Will Marianne be able to fulfil her promise to bring peace to the islands when she can’t even bring peace to herself?
Conquer the darkness. Control the magic. Save the Isles…
TW: blood, violence, death, PTSD, reference to past torture, trauma
This review is going to be a little bit different. While I will be going into the individual wonders of Vulture, this is also going to be my love letter to the thrilling, twisty and always fantastic series that is the Isles of Storm and Sorrow series by Bex Hogan.
For me, this was one of those series that reminded me just why I love reading YA so much.
I am constantly recommending it to other people and it’s helped get a couple of reluctant readers to start turning the pages once again. Hogan just has this sparkle and wit to her writing that keeps you utterly swept up in this creative, but brutal world she’s created. It’s like the glint in your eye as you start an adventure. There’s just this nameless, intangible quality to her work that you cannot help but fall in love with.
A major highlight of this series for me has to be these nuanced, three-dimensional and far too relatable characters. Marianne is one of my favourite YA fantasy heroines. She is resilient, empathetic and loving beyond comparison, but she is also fragile and vulnerable. Her strength comes entirely from her acceptance of herself and her history, being able to overcome her trauma and instead build herself a new family and community. Found family is one of my comfort tropes and seeing such a wonderful cast of characters fills my heart with joy. I love how distinctive and unique they all are and how within the space of a few pages, Hogan has you rooting for them. Yet again, be careful who you get attached to as Hogan is not afraid to brutally kill off her darlings.
There are always real stakes and consequences for actions in this bloody, vicious world. I love how Hogan isn’t afraid to go there. That keeps the sense of danger constant and an actual threat to these characters we love. As ever, Vulture keeps this intensity and passion high, with a clever payoff to that cliffhanger from Venom (Bex, you evil genius you). Right from that immensely strong opening, she had me in the palm of her hand. The writing style is so vivid and engaging, as well as being packed full of well executed plot twists and turns. I also love how dark and menacing the villains in this series are. They are despicable and encompass abuses of power through many different forms. All of this builds to an exceptional conclusion that managed the rare feat of actually being satisfying.
Vulture is a superb ending to what has been an amazing and highly engaging trilogy. Hogan really breaks your heart time and time again, so don’t expect to leave this series unscathed.