Sunday, August 21, 2022

Book Review: Etude (The Dark Nocturne #2) by Morgan Shamy

Title: Etude
Series: The Dark Nocturne #2
Publisher: Aethon Books
Publication Date: June 20th 2022
Print Length: 264 pages
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy
For November Huntington, the past haunts worse than any ghost.

After spending a summer without Vincent, a tortured pianist who also happens to be immortal, November tries to move on. When kids begin to fall into comas, November is thrust back into the haunted, musical world. Except, this time, more danger lurks.

Vincent is powerful. Dreams are causing these comas, and November believes he’s the one behind the attacks. To stop him, November must find the Blood Magic—the only power capable of helping her save these kids. But in doing so, she awakens a horrific group who live off of blood and kill for sport. What’s worse? A brood of witches con their way in, hungry for the power at hand.

One by one, November finds all her loved ones being wrenched away. Fear grips her, and she’s worried she might lose her mind, her sanity slowly fading, until she must face Vincent alone.

Is he her true love? Or is he out for her blood?

Only her dreams will tell.

After reading and loving Serenade (book review for it here), the first book in The Dark Nocturne series by Morgan Shamy, I automatically started the second book in the series, Etude, right away. Morgan Shamy proved, yet again, that she's making the paranormal fantasy genre her own with this book!

In Etude, November has been away from St. Paul's Academy for a month. She wants nothing to do with the school or anyone from the school after what happened in Serenade. When kids start falling into comas, she thinks she may be the cause thanks to Vincent. Reluctantly, she returns to the school to try to save the day. However, bad things start happening (again) to November and her friends. 

Just like with the plot of Serenade, Etude's plot is very original. I have never read anything like it, and that's a good thing! It is refreshing to read something original in a given genre especially when all previous books you've read in that genre start sounding the same. Anyway, I will admit that the plot of Etude does start off a bit slow. However, about sixty percent or so into the book, the pacing definitely picks up. I couldn't put the book down after that! I had suspicions about who would be the bad people and who were the good all throughout this book. I had to keep reading to see if I was right and to find out what would happen between Vincent and November. I loved the introduction of the dream world in Etude as well. With witches and blood walkers (vampires) roaming around in the novel, the action was there all throughout the book! Two plot twists were easy for me to figure out, but there were a couple of more plot twists (including a major one), that I just didn't see coming! Turns out that you really never know who you can trust in the Dark Nocturne universe. The book does end on a minor cliff hanger.

The characters in Etude are just as fleshed out and well developed as before. (I would even go as far as to say they're even more developed in this book than in the first in the series, and they were fleshed out well in that story.) While November is written well, I found her annoying in Etude. I don't know if it's because I'm about 20 years older than her, so I have more wisdom, but I found her lack of telling people about suspicious people and not trusting those around her more a bit infuriating. The fact that she would trust a stranger over her friends and not tell them when said stranger shares something major that could end up harming everyone really infuriated me. I wanted to bang my head against a brick wall! I kept screaming at November (in my head) to just tell someone about the suspicious character and what they would do to her (and to others). Yet November just seemed to let it slide until it becomes too late. I wish Vincent was in the story more because I loved Vincent in Serenade, but I know why he's not around as much in Etude. Cam was more more likeable in this book, and I loved how he seemed to be a better friend to everyone in Etude. Margaret was also really sweet in this book, and I think she ended up being my favorite character even if she wasn't featured a lot throughout the novel. Marcus was written well, but I always had my reservations about him. He seemed very selfish throughout the book (even if he said he wanted to help save his sisters). I also really liked Deva, although she was another character that wasn't featured that much in Etude. Be sure not to get attached to any one character though because Morgan Shamy is not afraid of killing anyone off (like in the first book)! That's another think I love about this series.

Trigger warnings for Etude include violence, death, murder, and mind control.

All in all, Etude is a fantastic follow up to the very well written Serenade. If you like figuring out which characters are the baddies, a plot that will consume you, and being whisked off to a magical world, then Etude is for you. I would definitely recommend Etude by Morgan Shamy to those aged 14+ who love an original take on paranormal fantasy where character loyalties aren't always as they seem. As for me, I've already started reading Promenade, the third book in the series because I'm addicted!
Morgan Shamy is an ex-ballerina turned YA writer. She has been immersed in the arts since the young age of 4, where she performed various roles alongside a professional ballet company for over seven years, and has danced on prestigious stages like soloing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She has taught hundreds of girls in her fifteen years of teaching, where some of her students have received full-ride scholarships to schools like School of American Ballet, the Harid Conservatory, Kirov Academy of Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, to name a few.

Morgan discovered writing when her three-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. It was through that experience which instilled the need to share art and magic with children through words on the page.

Morgan is also an accomplished concert pianist. She was the first girl in Utah to receive the 75 pt. Gold Cup in the Utah Federation of Music in piano solo/concerto competition. Morgan currently lives with her X-Games gold-medalist husband and four children in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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