Written by: Katherine Jimenez
I remember logging into Archive of Our Own for the first time on my seventh grade iPhone 6 to read Game of Thrones porn. I can’t say that it was a memorable enough experience for me to become an avid erotica reader, but I have always found fantasy stories that tag themselves “Adult” for their pornographic content very interesting. The Serpent and the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent was just that.
Broadbent takes us into the Nightborn vampire king’s court in book one of her Crowns of Nyaxia Series. The story follows mortal Oraya, adopted-daughter of the vampire king, as she enters the Kejari: a bloody tournament held by the goddess Nyxia every hundreds of years. Oraya’s goal is to win the tournament and ask the goddess to make her a vampire and bond her soul with her father’s. But the game is even deadlier than Oraya could have imagined as she struggles with her human identity in a world where humans will always be prey and she will never be fully accepted.
Over the course of the novel we follow Oraya as she hunts and kills vampires, both in and outside the Kejari. Most of the novel reminded me of The Hunger Games, but with more sex and vampires and fewer teenagers. Although I thought the bloody action scenes were great and well-paced, I didn’t find the dialogue or characters interesting. Oraya’s father Vincent repeated the same rephrased one-liner, always calling Oraya “little serpent” in every scene he was in. Despite being one of the most feared vampires of the court, Vincent came out a stock character. Easily defeated in the end, his only purpose was to serve as Oraya’s father figure, nothing more.
Oraya’s love interest Raihn had more depth than Vincent, but I was disappointed by his lack of personality compared to love interests in other Adult novels I have read. Very much like Edward Cullen, Raihn lived for Oraya, falling in love and vowing to protect her no matter the costs. We meet him in the tournament, a classic introduction to the novel’s enemies-to-lovers trope, and eventually learn of his tragic past as a “Rishan” vampire, the previous–and now eradicated–rulers of the vampire court.
Raihn was one of the few reasons I decided to complete this novel, mainly because I wanted to get to the sex scenes and move on to a different book. Unfortunately, the sex came in late. I was 300 pages in and still got nothing. When I eventually reached those pages, they were well-written, but I was so bored with the characters that I didn’t care to dwell. I skipped the porn and finished the novel, rating it three stars on Goodreads for being the first book I completed reading on my new Kindle.
Would I recommend The Serpent and the Wings of Night? No, but I’m also not a big fan of the vampire genre in general. I can’t deny my reading may have been somewhat biased. If you’re looking for a quick read where you read more for the plot than the sex, go for it. The novel does a great job at laying out the history and magical system of its own world. Otherwise, move on to the next thing on your reading list.