📖 Review: Seraph – Lily Mayne

Book cover showing hand with black nails reaching through a cage. Book cover says: Monstrous: Book Six. Seraph. Lily Mayne.

Series: Monstrous

Pages: 462
Time to read: 2h19m
Pages/hour: 199

Date read: Fri 9 Sep 2022

Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀

Out here, I helped myself. I saved myself. And that was the way I liked it.

So, you’ve got a rabid monster locked in a cage…

What are you going to do about it?

The sixth book in the Monstrous series (I’ve got reviews of Soul Eater and Edin up so far, but will get to the rest soon!), Seraph is all about the aforementioned rabid beastie and Lilac, the raider camp’s resident wood whittler and killer.

We’ll put them in that order.

After Gloam and Rig took him with them from Collector Mary’s, Seraph has been in his cage outside the camp, screaming his head off whenever he feels like it. But there’s a problem. The drugs the military provided Mary with – the ones Gloam suspects are keeping Seraph alive – are running out.

When they get down to the final dose, Lilac knows he’ll be the one to dispatch Seraph if it all proves to be too much. But has he grown too close in the meantime?

When the day comes, will he be able to do what needs to be done?

You’ll be able to sleep when Seraph’s dead. The uncomfortable thought popped into my head before I could stop it, just as I rounded the corner and his cage came into view.

These characters, though!

There are a lot of different elements that make up a book. Pacing, writing quality, themes… but I think the two most important are probably 1) character and 2) story.

And out of those? Characters eke past into my top spot, at least.

I mean, we all know that thing, that there’s only twenty-odd different stories and we’re telling the same ones over and over again, and that’s true. There are foundations that the vast majority of stories follow, and in romance, I think more than any other genre, there are foundations that we, the readers fully expect are followed.

That’s the point.

So the characters have to do the heavy lifting. Characters are going to set your enemies-to-lovers story apart from the hundred other enemies-to-lovers stories that are on offer, and although I think Mayne’s worldbuilding is incredible, her attention to detail is great, the characters are where this whole thing shines.

It’s easy to see in their relationships with one another; Danny and Hunter’s friendship is different to Hunter and Charlie’s, and Ghost and Rig’s friendship is different to Rig and Lilac’s. But Mayne’s got them all together in this book, and we never lose sight of them – Gloam’s wandering around being the tired, responsible dad; Wyn’s a murderous, vengeful uncle; Rig’s causing mischief just to help Lilac out; Hunter’s overstimulated and annoyed, but staunchly willing to protect Edin.

For a lot of authors, having these twelve separate characters around (plus the others, of course; Daisy, Anchor, Apollo, Rusty, Nun…) would be a difficult task. We’d lose sight of them for no good reason as they were pushed aside by the ones due to take centre stage and forgotten.

But they’re not.

And there’s the detailed character work, of course. Lilac has been a solitary creature in the previous books, never anyone scary to Ghost or Rig, but someone they could rely on. Now he has a chance to rely on others and we get a look at his story as it begins to entwine with Seraph’s.

Seraph’s, of course, is suitably tragic and involves one of those great reveals that was obvious if you were looking but is also surprising in its depths. I wonder if it will be explored in any further books.

Oh, and, they’re super in love and it’s sweet and hot and were you really, really expecting anything else?

“He said he hates being apart from you too,” he told me gruffly, seeming almost embarrassed to be sharing such an intimate moment with us. It was pretty surreal. “He said he wishes he could speak back to you and have you understand him, and he is trying, but please be patient with him. He said you are the only one he wants to speak to. Be near. He said…” Wyn cleared his throat awkwardly. “He said you make him feel like a person again, not just a thing.”

Fight for what you want

Spoilers ahead!

Okay, so, I didn’t see the parasite thing coming. And that was with having read the first five books the weekend before, so it’s not like I didn’t know what the list of symptoms were!

I was also genuinely worried for Lilac for a moment, even though it’s clear that he’s alive when Charlie and Moth return in Moth, and obviously he had to be fine. This is a HEA space.

But still! It was a great way to bring back Danny and Wyn and of course everyone loves Danny, he’s the sweetest, but also Wyn is hilarious now and is probably tied with Edin for my favourite person. I still love Lilac for knowing him more (and that people undermine his mysterious image just like they do Wyn), but they’re my faves.

Back to the story…

The themes are the same, of course. Who are the monsters? It’s still the military, which makes me wonder if there is a long-term change coming in the plot, especially with Cat doing who-knows-what in the cities. Will all the guys be able to help people outside of their camp? Rig would definitely want to.

This one wrestles more with Lilac’s feelings about it all. He hates the military, but never once feels anything but sympathy for Seraph. This makes sense, but it’s nice that he has to consider it when it comes to Hunter, who doesn’t necessarily care that much if Lilac likes him; he wants Lilac to give Edin room to meet Seraph, to spend time with someone else carrying the DNA of his species.

It’s something that could be heavy but is tempered by the romance and sweet and funny moments among the cast. Lilac’s vengeance puts him in good stead with Wyn, and it’s another way in which he and Seraph are a perfect match – there’s no question that they’ll hunt down anyone who might cross them.

I saw someone say they thought this book was sweeter than Moth, and while I see that point, for me it’s not true. Despite all the dismemberment, Moth is about someone who never really belonged finding a way to soften with someone who truly sees them for the first time. There’s darkness in the cult and the Herald, but the story isn’t about that, for Charlie and Moth.

Lilac and Seraph’s is all darkness. It’s less a sexual awakening for either of them and there’s sweetness in their relationship as a result; touch is because they need it, need to be close to each other, and it’s often not about sex. But they’re both ruthless and protective in a way that Charlie and Moth might not be, in a way Gloam and Aury don’t want to be, and there’s less of the humour and confidence in themselves that we see in Wyn and Edin.

(Which is not to say they’re not funny! Seraph is hilarious!)

Who is the monster? The military. But an outsider might be tricked into looking at this couple, thinking it’s Seraph, and then finding out that it’s Lilac standing with a knife behind them and that neither of them will much care as long as they’re both (and all their friends are) safe.

Final thoughts…

Obviously, this is another five spooky skulls: 💀💀💀💀💀

I unashamedly love this series. Every pairing is fun, and although I think I’m not quite as on edge for the next couple of books (Cat who?), I know they’ll turn out to be good reads. The characters are amazing and they leave me thinking about them long after I’ve finished with the books.

Oh! And if you’re looking for some more Monstrous stuff to tide you over, then I strongly recommend you head over to Lily Mayne’s website and check out the bonus content. There’s some tremendously good stuff in there, a lot of it Wyn or Moth-and-Charlie centric, but I had a great couple of hours reading through it all!

“I w-would do anything for you, Lie-lack,” he told me. “L-like you have done f-for me.”

I flushed, lifting my shoulder in an uncomfortable shrug. “I didn’t really do much.”

He chuffed, pulling me closer to curl his long limbs around me, enveloping me completely. My eyes slid shut, body relaxing in his embrace.

“You d-did everything,” he said.

Fancy giving it a read?

Find Seraph on Goodreads
Find Seraph on Amazon (UK)
Find Seraph on Amazon (US)

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