Am I back with a review for yet another book that somehow manages to get itself totally enmeshed with death? Yes. Is this, like Belladonna, by Adalyn Grace, another period piece that takes place in the 1800s? Also yes. Am I tired of this particular genre or of constantly surrounding myself with great female leads who aren’t as weary of death as they should be? Absolutely not.
Honestly, you’d think my appetite for fiction featuring capable women embroiled in murder mystery–esque plots would be sated by now, but it isn’t. Actually, I’m quite certain that The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond made it so that I’m even more enthralled by the genre – a pretty surprising feat considering I was getting my palate cleansed by going through some romantic comedies and fantasy before this beauty came along.
As you’ve probably guessed based on the title, The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond follows, well, Edie and Violet Bond – twin sisters who just happen to have a certain proclivity for death. Edie has the ability to cross the Veil of Death, a feat she accomplishes using lavender and a match, tools that allow her to open the Veil before passing through it. Violet, on the other hand, has the gift of being a medium for spirits and the ability to open the Veil.
That’s not to say that Violet isn’t an important part of the story – oh, no. She’s absolutely integral, and she’s always brought into the scene, be it through her actual presence or through Edie’s thoughts. But given the limitations on her capabilities, it’s only natural that Edie takes a little bit more of the limelight. Plus, it doesn’t help that Edie was also the crux of a critical moment in their lives prior to the beginning of the book – a moment that, might I add, proves to be really, really important.
Anyway, we end up following the twins through their journey as underage runaways in Sacramento. We’re dragged through the highs and the lows of their time in a traveling female-filled Spiritualist show. We come to understand the complex, haunting fear of what could happen to them as women (cough getting thrown into an asylum because of the men in their lives cough). Then, eventually, we bear witness to the twins (but really, it’s just Edie at first) realizing that they’re in danger.
The shadow that caused their mother’s death has somehow broken into the world of the living, and that just complicates things so much. Plus, other female spirit mediums have also been going missing, so Edie and Violet – well, mostly Edie, really – are tearing their hair out trying to get everything under control.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s also loads of murder?
And yes, I very much am grinning like a gremlin on the precipice of cackling. Then again, was anything else really expected of me of all people?
Really, this book is filled with loads of tropes that I absolutely adore and is also brimming with great characters – and you really can tell that they’re great because, as much as I’d like to whack both Edie and Violet over the head sometimes, I totally understand where they’re coming from because it makes sense for them. This isn’t even mentioning how totally distinct yet similar they are – as though they were two sides of the same coin – and how tangible the desire for gender equality is.
Now, that’s not to say that I enjoyed every aspect of the book. Some parts didn’t garner as much of my attention, certain scenes seemed unnecessary at times, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the first couple of chapters. It was a good read, but it wasn’t brilliantly captivating (to me, at least) like Belladonna or addictive like the Stalking Jack the Ripper series – both of which could be compared to this novel.
Nevertheless, the world is a breath of fresh air, I think, as it creates an entirely new phenomenon and realm that tie together so nicely, and the characters are, as I’ve mentioned, rich and intriguing, and the douse of feminism that was so sorely lacking during the period is welcome.
Overall, I’d give this book a solid seven out of ten, and I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who likes murder mysteries, death, fantastical elements, and brilliant female characters.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Union Square & Co., for review.