Kiev is a complicated character to be sure. From the series A Shade of Vampire, we know that he has mostly done horrible things but we saw glimpses of kindness…very brief glimpses but they were there.
He was under the Elder’s influence and was conditioned to be cruel or else he would pay for it with torture…physically and mentally.
The last we saw of Kiev was when he let Sofia and her baby escape Aviary, the realm of the Hawks. The Hawks are a not-so-nice group of supernaturals who use humans and vampires to suit their own needs.
This book starts out with Kiev being imprisoned because he let Sofia go. He’s scheduled to be executed within three days but all of the vampires of Aviary are imprisoned, even the loyal vampires. The Hawks and the Elders are at war and due to an impending attack from the Elders, the Hawks have decided to kill all of the vampires so they cannot be used by the Elders as vessels. The Elders are basically invisible beings who cannot do much without a body to do their bidding. They can only possess vampires and once they possess a vampire, they bite humans and turn them into vampires so they can possess them too. The Elders cannot survive away from Cruor, their realm, without a body for very long so when they arrive and cannot find any vampires to possess, they will parish.
A human woman, a favored slave of the leader of the Hawks, passes out blood for a last meal to the vampires who were loyal to him. Kiev is not on that list but he grabs her when she gets close to his cell and tries to drink her blood. She stabs him in the arm with a knife.
In a weird turn of events, Kiev and the same human slave named Mona end up escaping together. As it turns out, Aviary is just a small part of the realm which is covered mostly by oceans.
Mona is a witch with no powers. She was not willing to give up the details to Kiev since she did not trust him even though she is strangely attracted to him. She is able to communicate and control dolphins which she puts bridles on so they can pull her boat.
She agrees to let Kiev ride with her until she can drop him off somewhere safe so she can go on and find the group of pirates that she belongs to.
Kiev really wants redemption now that he is not under the Elder’s control but trouble just follows him. Mona takes him to a small island called The Tavern which is basically full of misfits. He is told that he can stay as long as he works for his keep and doesn’t cause trouble. Unfortunately, a human came up to him and confronted him for something Kiev did a long time ago. How this human found him in another realm or even recognized him was a mystery but they ended up fighting and Kiev ended up almost being executed again. A werewolf named Saira saved him because she though he and Mona were friends and Saira put him on her ship that she happens to co-captain with Matteo Borgia. Now, this is a problem because Kiev killed Matteo’s sister, Natalie, but Matteo seems to not have gotten the news probably because they are in a different realm and the news hasn’t traveled yet.
The crew which is made up of werewolves and vampires takes him to their island which is surrounded by a fence sort of like an old fashioned fort. Saira gives him a secret mission and tells him if he fails, she will kick him off the island. The mission is to become Mona’s friend. Saira thinks Mona needs a friend because, although Mona is friendly, she keeps everyone at a distance and keeps to herself. In fact, Mona has built her house in the middle of the lake on the island and only comes in to get water and supplies once a day.
Kiev tries all kinds of things to become Mona’s friend, including having the island’s only Ogre build her a table. Nothing seems to be working.
I think this was the best book of any of the Bella Forrest books so far. I know this is a spinoff series of A Shade of Vampire series but I liked it better than any of those books.